The Paris Agreement has a “bottom-up” structure, unlike most international environmental treaties, which are “top-down” and are characterized by internationally defined norms and goals that states must implement.  Unlike its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, which sets commitment targets that have the force of res judicata, the Paris Agreement, focused on consensus-building, allows for voluntary and national targets.  Specific climate objectives are therefore more politically encouraged than legally linked. Only the processes governing reporting and verification of these objectives are prescribed by international law. This structure is particularly notable for the United States – in the absence of legal targets for reduction or funding, the agreement is considered an “executive agreement and not a treaty”. Since the 1992 UNFCCC treaty has received Senate approval, this new agreement does not require further laws of Congress for it to enter into force.  The EU has been at the forefront of international efforts to combat climate change. It played an important role in mediating the Paris Agreement and continues to play a global leadership role. With regard to the long-term objectives of the agreement, Article 2 aims, at the same rate, to keep the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels by 2100 and to “make efforts” to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. The latter figure is an extremely ambitious target since the current temperature increase is already above 0.8°C and most scientists believe that the 1.5°C target will be very difficult to achieve. Gurdial Singh Nijar, speaking on behalf of like-minded developing countries, reiterated this sentiment by saying that per capita income was low in both India and China. “In order not to then continue on a path of progress – industrialization – we still need to reduce per capita income,” he said.
“We cannot accept hunger as a price to pay for the success of this agreement.” The agreement recognises that efforts to improve resilience to the effects of climate change must accompany efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the global climate change project. It also recognizes the needs of the most vulnerable and encourages the development of national adaptation plans. This letter examines how the Paris Agreement is making progress on the three pillars of the fight against climate change – reducing greenhouse gas pollution, mobilising climate finance and adapting to climate effects – and how it resolves several ongoing controversies within the UNFCCC. From 30 November to 11 December 2015, France hosted representatives from 196 countries for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, one of the largest and most ambitious global meetings ever organised. The goal was nothing less than a binding and universal agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions to a level that would prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) above the temperature level set before the start of the Industrial Revolution. In response to the climate challenge, the agreement recognises that states have common but differentiated responsibilities, i.e. . . .