First, the Paris Agreement was signed by nearly 200 countries and ratified by 111 countries (including China, India and the United States). Compared to previous attempts to set global emissions targets such as the Kyoto Protocol, a consensus on threats to climate change could almost be seen as a victory in itself. To contribute to the goals of the agreement, countries presented comprehensive national climate change plans (national fixed contributions, NDC). These are not yet sufficient to meet the agreed temperature targets, but the agreement points to the way forward for further measures. The agreement recognizes the role of non-partisan stakeholders in the fight against climate change, including cities, other sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and others. The UK`s goal under the 2015 Paris Agreement, when it shared a joint emissions plan with the EU, was to reduce by 53% by 2030. However, this was widely considered non-stretchable and the UK also had a national CO2 budget, in accordance with the Climate Change Act, which imposes an average reduction of 57% between 2028 and 2032. The Paris agreement is not without its critics and it is not the agreement that everyone wanted. Many believe that emissions targets are not sufficient and stricter targets are needed to limit the effects of climate change. It is also worrying that some of the agreement`s commitments are not legally binding and, more recently, the President-elect of the United States has raised concerns by promising to withdraw the United States (responsible for 17.8% of global emissions) from the agreement. The Paris Agreement is the first legally binding universal global agreement on climate change adopted at the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December 2015.

Johnson is hosting a preliminary meeting of world heads of state and government next month, the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement. He is expected to use the plan at the Climate Ambition 2020 summit to encourage other countries to follow suit. Under the Paris Agreement, all countries must submit new emission reduction targets for the next decade by the end of the year. It will also enable the contracting parties to gradually strengthen their contributions to the fight against climate change in order to achieve the long-term objectives of the agreement. Jill Duggan, Director of The Prince of Wales` Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), said: “The UK government`s ratification of the agreement today sends an important signal to international allies, businesses and investors about the inevitable transition to a zero-carbon economy.” The EU and its member states are among the nearly 190 parties to the Paris Agreement. The EU formally ratified the agreement on 5 October 2016, allowing it to enter into force on 4 November 2016. In order for the agreement to enter into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions had to file their ratification instruments. The United Kingdom officially presented on Thursday evening (3 December) the target of a 68% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The objective will serve as a national contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, which will define the necessary internal measures that each country must take to contribute to the implementation of the comprehensive agreement.

We look at what this means and why this historic agreement is so important. The emissions reductions promised under the agreement are ambitious, but drastic measures are urgently needed if we are to limit global warming to a safe level.