The Blog

What Does the Paris Agreement Mean to You?

Photo courtesy of Arnaud Bouissou

According to UNFCCC the Paris Agreement can only be successful if everyone fully supports it, and helps bring it to life. This means that commitments need to be honoured by national, regional, and local governments. Stakeholders such as investors, and businesses also need to abide by the new regulatory environment. Citizens also need to buy into the concept including making lifestyle changes that may be uncomfortable at times.

Heads of State and Government will travel to New York on 22nd of April to sign the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement. Ahead of the signing the UN Climate Change Newsroom Team are running a campaign - What does the Paris Agreement means to you?

People across the world are posting 30-second videos to social media, giving their opinions on the agreement. If you wish to participate visit the UNFCCC newsroom website. I have asked some Climate Change Guru's to give their thought on the agreement.

What does the Paris Agreement mean to you?

"Paris was a moment of hope for me. I believe that the consensus that emerged between the 190 or more countries is significant in the power that comes from such collective agreement. I welcome the new rules on transparency and accountability and the mechanism for increasing ambition, which I think should help us make the transition we need to make to a cleaner and more equitable economic model. I know the agreement is not perfect, and following the event there seems to be little or no increase in ambition at a domestic level, but it at least provides us with the measure of such inaction."

Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Irish Green Party.

"The Paris COP21 Agreement is a much-needed step towards the substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions required to limit the increase in average global temperatures to at least 2 degrees Celsius. However, every day I see new scientific studies which indicate that the many negative consequences of anthropogenically-caused GHG emissions are accelerating at rates worse than predicted. Therefore I'm convinced that the world absolutely must limit the average temperature increase to the COP21 aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Here in the USA, the second-largest contributor to GHGs, it is extraordinarily inexcusable that climate change is perceived, and treated as a political issue by our Republican party. The denial of climate change by so-called "leaders" of that party forced President Obama to seek (and get) a legally non-binding agreement, as he knew the Republican party would block any efforts to join a legally-binding agreement. There is similar opposition to a binding treaty in many other developed countries as well. This failure to achieve a legally-binding agreement severely undermines the likelihood that the world can attain even the 2 degrees Celsius limit. The "Free-Rider" problem will persist, and many countries will not make the reductions in GHG emissions required. View Article -

One effort at a creative resolution is the proposal from economist William Nordhaus to create a Global Climate Club, to incentivize countries to not become Free-Riders, and to make the GHG reductions required. This approach has several challenges, but represents an innovative approach, which is desperately needed."

Ted Howard Principal Sustaenable,

"The Paris agreement is a good start. The preamble of the agreement includes an important acknowledgement of the diverse lifeways and knowledge systems of Indigenous peoples. Leading up to the meeting, the International Indigenous People's Forum on Climate Change characterized COP21 as a potential "turning point or another missed opportunity on the hard path towards climate justice." As it turned out, the outcomes of COP21 for Indigenous peoples fell somewhere in the middle. Indigenous peoples are recognized in the preamble of the Paris Agreement (which serves as the key to unlock the interpretation and implementation of the operative provisions), but not in the legally binding operative section. Thus, there is much work left to be done on the "hard path toward climate justice."

Personally, I feel encouraged by the Paris agreement. I am cautiously optimistic, though, because while the agreement makes critical strides in mitigation and adaptation, it still needs to be voted into force, and even then, it lacks effective enforcement measures. My hope is that enforcement will be worked out among countries who realize the mutual benefit of doing so. The sort of future we have as global citizens depends on it."

Heather Lazrus, Ph.D.

National Center for Atmospheric Research

"The Paris Agreement means that 195 nations agreed they will come together and attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit the global average temperature to a rise "well below" 2C (3.6F) compared to pre-industrial levels - a level of warming deemed to be the point when dangerous climate change could threaten life on Earth."

Sohail Iqbal

Appeared on CNN Two Degrees: CNN Climate Change Debate on Cop21