Affordable and scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to move towards cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is accelerating as more and more people turn to renewable energy and a number of other measures that will reduce emissions and intensify adaptation efforts. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which set legally binding emission reduction targets (as well as penalties for non-compliance) only for industrialized countries, the Paris Agreement requires all countries – rich, poor, developed and developing – to take their share 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. The Paris Agreement was launched at the signing on April 22, 2016 (Earth Day) at a ceremony in New York.  After the agreement was ratified by several EU member states in October 2016, there were enough countries that had ratified the agreement to produce enough greenhouse gases in the world for the agreement to enter into force.  The agreement came into force on November 4, 2016.  The origin of the 1.5oC limit in the Paris Agreement stems from the concern of countries at risk about the negative consequences of a warming of 2oC. In 2014, the UNFCCC established a process to determine whether Cancun`s long-term goal of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius is sufficient to avoid dangerous climate change and to consider “strengthening the long-term global goal based on the best available scientific knowledge, including an average global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius.” This process ended in 2015 with the final report of its scientific arm (Structured Expert Dialogue), which concluded that the use of the global warming limit of 2oC as a “protection barrier” was not safe and that governments should instead aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius. It was found that the 2oC limit was not in line with the convention`s ultimate goal of “preventing dangerous anthropogenic intervention in the climate system.” This was an important contribution to the ongoing negotiations on the Paris Agreement at the time and ultimately led to the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement on temperature in Article 2.1, as described above.
These rules of transparency and accountability are similar to those set out in other international agreements. Although the system does not include financial sanctions, the requirements are intended to easily monitor the progress of individual nations and promote a sense of overall group pressure, discouraging any towing of feet among countries that might consider it. Currently, 197 countries – every nation on earth, the last signatory is war-torn Syria – have adopted the Paris Agreement. 179 of them have consolidated their climate proposals with official approval, including, for the time being, the United States. The only major emitters that have yet to formally accede to the agreement are Russia, Turkey and Iran. Countries must, among other things, report on their greenhouse gas inventories and their progress against their targets, so that external experts can assess their success. Countries should also review their commitments by 2020 and present new targets every five years to further reduce emissions.