It is rare that there is a consensus among almost all nations on a single subject. But with the Paris Agreement, world leaders agreed that climate change was fueled by human behavior, that it posed a threat to the environment and humanity as a whole, and that global action was needed to stop it. In addition, a clear framework has been put in place for all countries to make emission reduction commitments and strengthen these measures over time. Here are some important reasons why the agreement is so important: President Obama was able to formally integrate the United States into international law through executive measures, as he did not impose new legal obligations on the country. The United States already has a number of instruments in its books, in line with laws already passed by Congress, to reduce carbon pollution. The country formally acceded to the agreement in September 2016, after presenting its proposal for participation. The Paris Agreement can only enter into force if at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions have formally acceded to it. This was done on October 5, 2016 and the agreement entered into force 30 days later on November 4, 2016. NRDC is working to make the Global Climate Action Summit a success by inspiring more ambitious commitments for the historic 2015 agreement and strengthened initiatives to reduce pollution. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which set legally binding emission reduction targets (as well as sanctions for non-compliance) only for developed countries, the Paris Agreement requires all countries – rich, poor, developed and developing – to contribute to and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
To this end, the Paris Agreement incorporates greater flexibility: there is no language about the commitments countries should make, nations can voluntarily set their emissions targets (NNCs), and countries will not be punished if they fail to meet their proposed targets. But what the Paris Agreement requires is to monitor, report and reassess countries` individual and collective goals over time, in order to bring the world closer to the broader goals of the agreement. And the agreement includes an obligation for countries to announce their next round of targets every five years, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed at this target but did not contain a specific requirement to achieve it. These rules of transparency and accountability are similar to those adopted under other international agreements. . . .