The long-term temperature objective of the Paris Agreement is to keep the global average temperature rise well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels; and continue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F), which will significantly reduce the risks and effects of climate change. This should be done by reducing emissions as quickly as possible in order to “achieve, in the second half of the twenty-first century, a balance between anthropogenic emissions from sources and greenhouse gas reductions from sinks”. It also aims to increase the parties` ability to adapt to the negative effects of climate change and to “reconcile financial flows with a path towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development”. 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. [32] 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. [33] 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. [33] Among other things, countries need to report on their greenhouse gas inventories and 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. They must participate in a “global inventory” to measure the collective effort to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

In the meantime, developed countries must also assess the amount of financial assistance they will provide to developing countries to help them reduce their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. The Paris Agreement reflects the collective belief of almost every nation on earth that climate change is humanity`s war and unmasks America`s climate skeptics – including Trump – as global outliers. Indeed, mobilizing support for climate action across the country and around the world gives hope that the Paris Agreement marks a turning point in the fight against climate change. We can all contribute to the cause by looking for ways to reduce contributions to global warming, at the individual, local and national levels. The effort will be worth the reward of a safer and cleaner world for future generations.. . .