The Paris Agreement, a new international treaty to tackle climate change, was adopted by 196 countries on 12 December 2015. It represents a breakthrough in international diplomacy, signally a renewed global commitment to addressing climate change and creating new coalitions of climate leaders. Before the Paris Agreement, the international climate regime was largely stuck without any approach that all countries could sign up to that would make a difference in addressing the problem.
The Paris Agreement changed all this, creating a new paradigm for international climate policy, politics and cooperation. It demonstrates that countries do both understand the risks that climate change poses to their countries and that the solutions to the problem are available and highly beneficial to societies. In order to make sure that countries stay the course, the Agreement includes a long-term goal for a zero carbon climate resilient economy and a ratchet mechanism so that countries have to increase their action every five years. It also, however, remembers that the impacts are already happening and hurting the poor and vulnerable the most and therefore includes new approaches and support to countries to adapt to the impacts.
The Paris Agreement has revitalized the international climate regime and ensured its relevance in the future. The rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement, less than a year after its adoption, is a further demonstration of the global political will needed to make it a success.
An article recently published in WIREs Climate Change explores the main policy and political shifts that the Paris Agreement represents, and explains why this new paradigm of international climate policy, politics and cooperation is key to accelerating the pace of change and avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Contributed by Jennifer Morgan.