The 2015 Paris Agreement was a watershed moment in the fight against climate change, with 196 nations signing a legally binding international treaty that saw them agree to work towards halting and reversing global warming and carbon emissions.
It was brought into effect on November 4, 2016, with all countries involved submitting their plans for climate action in the form of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which outlined their strategies for reducing carbon and greenhouse emissions.
Countries involved have also been invited to contribute their long-term strategies in the form of long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LT-LEDS).
So while the Paris Agreement is still in its infancy, there has been movement and real signs of progress since the 196 nations signed on.
Here are some of the key actions that have occurred since 2015.
The United States left the agreement, but looks set to return
The biggest action taken was when former President of the United States of America Donald Trump removed his country from the agreement.
“The Paris accord would have been shutting down American producers with excessive regulatory restrictions like you would not believe, while allowing foreign producers to pollute with impunity,” he said at the time.
“What we won’t do is punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters.”
Since then, Trump lost the US election and the new POTUS Joe Biden has vowed to return to the Paris Agreement.
COVID-19 leads to a massive decrease in global emissions
The ongoing pandemic saw widespread lockdowns and restrictions around the world. With industries shutting down, transport and logistics services halting and people staying at home, emissions fell by 1,550 million metric tons in the first half of 2020 alone. This should not be cause for complacency, though, as it has done little to halt climate change.
Over 1000 large companies pledged to make a difference
Businesses around the world are large contributors towards greenhouse and carbon emissions, and need to play a leading role if we are to achieve a carbon net-zero future. The good news is that over 1000 large global businesses have committed to making a difference, with around a third of these pledging to achieve carbon net-zero operations.
Around 400 global cities have pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2050
On top of that, a further 10,500 cities have joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy as part of their commitment towards transforming into sustainable cities for the future.
Fossil fuels lose financial backing
A big sign that the world has reached a tipping point when it comes to transitioning towards renewable energy sources is the fact that major financial institutions view fossil fuels as a bad investment.
As part of this, 130 private banks (one-third of the global banking sector) have signed up to the Principles for Responsible Banking, which aims to align banking practices with the Paris Agreement.
Renewable energy has become more affordable
Between 2010 and 2019, solar energy prices dropped 90 per cent. Solar panel efficiencies have soared as well. With new technologies like battery storage available, reliable solar power has never been more reliable or affordable.
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