As part of the 2015 pioneering agreement, nations pledged not to keep global warming above pre-industrial levels. In the meantime, the vast majority of nations have ratified the agreement. On October 5, 2016, when the agreement reached enough signatures to cross the threshold, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “Even if we achieve all the goals… we will only get to part of where we need to go. He also said that “this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.” It will help other nations reduce their emissions over time and set bolder goals as technology progresses, all under a strong transparency system that will allow each nation to assess the progress of all other nations.   Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which set legally binding emission reduction targets (and penalties only for non-compliance) for developed countries only, the Paris Agreement requires all countries – rich, poor, developed and developing – to do their part and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, the Paris Agreement provides for greater flexibility: commitments that countries should make are not included, countries can voluntarily set their emissions targets and countries will not be penalized if they do not meet their proposed targets. But what the Paris agreement requires is to monitor, report and reassess, over time, the objectives of individual and collective countries, in order to bring the world closer to the broader objectives of the agreement. And the agreement stipulates that countries must announce their next round of targets every five years, contrary to the Kyoto Protocol, which was aimed at this target but which contained no specific requirements to achieve this goal. Kumi Naidoo, Director General of Greenpeace International, summed up the mood: “It sometimes seems that UN countries can`t agree on anything, but nearly 200 countries have come together and reached an agreement. Today, humanity has joined a common cause. The Paris agreement is only a step on a long road, and there are parts that frustrate, that disappoint me, but it is progress. The chord alone will not take us out of the hole we are in, but it makes the sides less steep. The agreement recognizes the role of non-partisan stakeholders in the fight against climate change, including cities, other sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and others.
It is an agreement with an “action agenda” to implement accelerators to ensure more ambitious progress beyond binding commitments. The current commitments made by national governments under the Paris Agreement fall well short of what is needed – together they would still condemn the world to an estimated temperature increase of more than 3oC by the end of the century.