Paris Agreement (COP 21) - Everything You Need to Know

Paris Agreement was signed in 2016 by UNFCCC 195 signatories. The agreement intends to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Before COP 21 in Paris, countries were asked to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s). There was a marked shift in the commitments from various countries. India was clubbed in the group of emerging economies and India lived up to it’s billing as a responsible nation in tackling climate change. In 2017, the US President announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement. The effective date of withdrawal of the US is November 2020.

The article will in detail talk about COP 21 as it would be of importance in the IAS Exam for both Prelims and Mains.

The topic, ‘Paris Agreement’, is an important segment of the Environment and Ecology syllabus of UPSC Mains GS III. Aspirants can prepare similar important environment topics by referring to the links below:

Key Facts about Paris Agreement – COP 21

What is the Paris Agreement?

It is a multilateral agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); signed to reduce, mitigate greenhouse-gas-emissions.

Official site –

When was the Paris Agreement signed?

An agreement was signed on 22 April 2016.

How many countries signed the Paris Agreement?

Currently, 195 UNFCCC members have signed it. However, US President Donald Trump has announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement by November 2020.

The goal of the Paris Agreement

  1. To curtail the rise of global temperature this century below 2-degree Celsius, above pre-industrial levels; and also pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees celsius.
  2. Develop mechanisms to help and support countries that are very vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. An example would be countries like the Maldives facing threat due to sea-level rise.
  3. Confirms the obligation that developed countries have towards developing countries, by providing them financial and technological support.

The agreement talks about 20/20/20 targets, i.e.

  1. Carbon Dioxide emissions reductions by 20%,
  2. Work on increasing the renewable energy market share by 20%
  3. Target to increase energy efficiency by 20%

What is Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)?

  1. It means the contributions that need to be done by each country to achieve the overall global goal.
  2. The contributions need to be reported every 5 years to UNFCCC.
  3. The contributions are not legally binding.
  4. The goal is to make sure that all countries have access to technical expertise and financial capability to meet the climate challenges.

The major difference between the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement

In the Paris agreement, there is no difference between developing and developed countries. In the Kyoto Protocol, there was a differentiation between developed and developing countries by clubbing them as Annex 1 countries and non-Annex 1 countries.

International transfer of Mitigation outcomes

As per the Paris agreement, Parties have the right to include the reduction of emissions in any other country as their NDC, as per the system of carbon trading and accounting.

Financial Support pledged during the Paris 2015 Agreement

  1. Developed countries have committed $ 100 Billion a year.
  2. Finance would be balanced between mitigation and adaptation.
  3. G7 countries announced the US $ 420 Million for Climate Risk Insurance and the launching of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative.
  4. $ 3 Billion commitment for Green Climate Fund.

What is Article 6 of the Paris Agreement?

  1. Help Governments establish and implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)
  2. Help establish a global price of carbon
  3. The use of establishing a global price in Carbon is that if countries exceed their NDC, those countries will have to bear the cost of global warming.

India at COP 21

  1. India put out a statement that we need to grow rapidly to meet the aspiration of 1.25 Billion population, and out of this 300 Million people are without access to energy.
  2. Yet despite the growing demands, India has pledged to reduce emissions intensity per unit GDP by 33-35% of 2005 levels
  3. Aiming to reach 40% of installed capacity from non-fossil fuels.
  4. Targeting 175 GW of renewable energy generation by 2022.
  5. Planning to enlarge forest cover to absorb 2.5 Billion tonnes worth of carbon dioxide.
  6. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels through levies and reduction in subsidies.
  7. India exhorted on the principles of equity and differentiated responsibilities
  8. As per India, equity means national commitments that must be consistent with the carbon space nations occupy.
  9. India expects developed countries to mobilize 100 billion US dollars annually by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in the developing countries.

Paris Agreement – COP21 (UPSC Notes):-Download PDF Here

Also read:

  1. List of Environment Conventions & Protocols

The above details would be of help to candidates preparing for the UPSC 2021 exams from the perspective of the mains examination.

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