Negotiators made major and encouraging promises when they adopted the new Paris Agreement at COP21 last week. Yet the future success of this Agreement relies on tough questions about accountability, participation, transparency and effectiveness—all of which have governance challenges at their core.
Countries are at different stages of development, with different levels of capabilities. This reality must be considered when building a low-carbon and climate-resilient world.
Never in the history of UN climate summits has there been such a bright spotlight on transport. This is a momentous kick-start to promote widespread adoption of sustainable mobility in order to curb climate change.
One of the new Agreement's core ingredients is known as the ambition mechanism, or cycles of action. This mechanism lays out a process to continue strengthening countries' climate action every five years, starting before 2020.
The Agreement adopted at COP21 in Paris takes the world further than it has ever gone before on climate policy. WRI Climate Director Jennifer Morgan explains.
The Paris Agreement has set the world on course for transformative climate action to cut emissions, promote clean energy, build climate resilience, and catalyze climate action investments. The Agreement’s backbone is transparency and accountability on the steps countries are taking toward these goals. This transparency is vital for building international trust and confidence that action is taking place as well as for assessing how to facilitate further action.
"Under President Obama, the United States has sent a clear message at home and abroad that it's serious about climate action," write WRI Board member and former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson. "We've vastly increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, set standards to limit carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan, and brought China and other countries together around firm international commitments for action."
Large, private sector energy customers wanting to buy more renewable energy are already driving change in electricity markets by scaling up clean power delivered through the grid. More renewables in countries’ power grids will accelerate progress toward emissions-reduction targets put forth in Paris.
If successful, the new international climate agreement forged in Paris will send strong signals to financial markets—and therefore to businesses and investors—about the direction of energy for the foreseeable future.
Even before the new international climate agreement is finalized, COP21 has accomplished a lot when it comes to cities, clean energy, business and more.