Paris Agreement

©UNESCO/Peter Dogse
Entrance of the COP21 site

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) was held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015. After two weeks of negotiations, 195 heads of states agreed on a common objective to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; to foster low greenhouse gas emissions development, as well as adaptation and resilience to climate change.

The conditions for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change were met on 5 October 2016, when several EU countries deposited their instruments of ratification, thus crossing the threshold of 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions, that will trigger its implementation. As of today, 169 Parties covering more than 75 per cent of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions have ratified this landmark document, which became fully operational on 4 November 2016.

As a consequence of the entry into force, the Parties are now obliged to take action to achieve the temperature goals enshrined in the Agreement – keeping the average global temperature rise from pre-industrial times below 2 degrees centigrade and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees – and to meet the national emissions-cutting pledges made in Paris. For example, the EU has a “Nationally Determined Contribution” of cutting emissions by 40% by 2030 on 1990 levels, and the USA by up to 28% by 2025 compared with 2005.

These objectives are at the centre of UNESCO’s MAB Programme and its World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). As mentioned in the MAB Strategy 2015-2025 under strategic objective 4; the MAB Programme supports mitigation and adaptation to climate change and other aspects of global environmental change. This objective is reflected as well in the Lima Action Plan for UNESCO’s MAB Programme and its WNBR (2016-2025) through Strategic Action A1.4 stating to use biosphere reserves as priority sites and observatories for climate change research, monitoring, mitigation and adaptation, including in support of the UNFCCC COP21 Paris Agreement.

The 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) focused on action, and helping countries to develop their National Adaptation Plans. It took place in Marrakech, Morocco, on 7-18 November. 

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