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Paris Agreement
European Union Carbon Market Glossary




The text of the Paris Agreement was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), which took place in Paris from 30 November to 12 December 2015.


Parties to the Convention include, among others, the European Union and its Member States.


Paris Agreement sets out a qualitative long-term emissions reduction goal in line with the objective to keep the global temperature increase well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5°C. 


In order to achieve this goal, the Parties will set or update emission reduction targets. 


Starting from 2023, Parties will every 5 years undertake a global stocktake, based on the latest science and implementation to date, which will track progress and consider emission reductions, adaptation and support provided.


Paris Agreement has been opened for signature on the 22 April 2016 in New York, and enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.





Key features of the Paris Agreement



The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change acknowledging that this will require a global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieving climate neutrality in the second half of this century. The Agreement has the following key features:


- It sets out a long term goal to put the world on track to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels – and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C; The aspirational goal of 1.5°C was agreed to drive greater ambition, and to highlight the concerns of the most vulnerable countries that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.


- It sends a clear signal to all stakeholders, investors, businesses, civil society and policy-makers that the global transition to clean energy is here to stay and that resources have to shift away from fossil fuels; With 189 national climate plans covering some 98% of all emissions, tackling climate change is now become a truly global effort. With Paris, we are moving from action by a few to action by all.


- It provides a dynamic mechanism to take stock and strengthen ambition over time. Starting from 2023, Parties will come together every five years in a "global stocktake" to consider progress in emissions reductions, adaptation and support provided and received in view of the long-term goals of the Agreement.


- Parties have a legally binding obligation to pursue domestic mitigation measures, with the aim of achieving the objectives of their contributions.

- It sets up an enhanced transparency and accountability framework, including the biennial submission by all Parties of greenhouse gas inventories and the information necessary to track their progress, a technical expert review, a facilitative, multilateral consideration of Parties' progress and mechanism to facilitate implementation of and promote compliance.


- It provides an ambitious solidarity package with adequate provisions on climate finance and on addressing needs linked to adaptation and loss and damage associated with adverse effects of climate change. To promote individual and collective action on adaptation, the Paris Agreement establishes for the first time a global goal with the aim to enhance capacity, climate resilience and reduce climate vulnerability. Internationally, it encourages greater cooperation among Parties to share scientific knowledge on adaptation as well as information on practices and policies.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, The Road from Paris: assessing the implications of the Paris Agreement and accompanying the proposal for a Council decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Paris agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2.3.2016 COM(2016) 110 final, p. 3,4




On 5 October, the EU formally ratified the Paris Agreement, thus enabling its entry into force on 4 November 2016.


Paris Agreement is the successor of the Kyoto Protocol. However, as opposite to the Kyoto Protocol (where all commitments of Annex B Parties were expressed as absolute economy wide multi-year emission budgets (top-down approach)), Paris agreement contributions are formulated bottom-up.


In the run up to COP21 in Paris Parties were asked to come forward with their intended post-2020 climate contributions (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions - INDCs), which go beyond the current efforts of the respective Party.


The commitments made by all Parties in their INDCs may be expressed, in particular, as:


- a percentage change of emissions over time,

- a change in emission intensity, or

- a change relative to Business as Usual (BAU).


Moreover, Parties may use different target and/or base years.


When it comes to legal form, the outcome of COP 21 consists of:


- a COP decision and


- the actual text of the Paris Agreement (an annex to the COP decision).


Some important aspects are missing in the Paris Agreement. In particular, the Paris Agreement does not:
- specify emissions budgets or quantified emission reductions,
- make any provisions for carbon pricing,
- contain enforceable formal mitigation commitments,
- mention the term 'decarbonisation',
- cover the sectors of international shipping and aviation.


Paris Agreement differs significantly from its predecessor - the Kyoto Protocol:


1. the scope of the Paris Agreement covers mitigation, adaptation, finance , while the Kyoto Protocol concentrates on mitigation;

2. the Paris Agreement is concluded for an indefinite period (revisions of nationally determined contributions are foreseen every five years) while the Kyoto Protocol consisted of 2 phases: Phase 1: 2008-2012 and Phase 2: 2013-2020;


3. when it comes to the personal coverage the Paris Agreement is much broader than the Kyoto Protocol, since the Paris Agreement requires all Parties to make nationally determined mitigation contributions (NDCs), while under the Kyoto Protocol only developed country Parties had emission reduction targets;


4. Paris Agreement captures by already submitted NDCs 99% of global emissions, while this number for the Kyoto Protocol is 14% in phase 2;



Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement.


A mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development is hereby established under the authority and guidance of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement for use by Parties on a voluntary basis. It shall be supervised by a body designated by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, and shall aim:


(a)  To promote the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions while fostering sustainable development;

(b)  To incentivize and facilitate participation in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions by public and private entities authorized by a Party;

(c)  To contribute to the reduction of emission levels in the host Party, which will benefit from mitigation activities resulting in emission reductions that can also be used by another Party to fulfil its nationally determined contribution; and

(d)  To deliver an overall mitigation in global emissions.


5. each agreement operates on different mechanism: the Paris Agreement uses NDCs as its basic tool and Parties cooperate on a voluntary basis, while the Kyoto Protocol set emissions targets for developed countries;


6. each agreement adopted different approach to enforcement: the Paris Agreement’s approach is expert-based, transparent, non-adversarial and non-punitive while the Kyoto Protocol enforces its obligations through suspension from emissions trading and additional emissions reductions in second commitment period;


7. finally, when it comes to transparency, under the Paris Agreement there are similar reporting requirements for all Parties while the Kyoto Protocol applied different reporting requirements for developed and developing countries.


Article 6 of the Paris Agreement provides for international emissions trading between Parties and establishes a new market mechanism.


They are subject to robust markets accounting. the principle of no double counting.


The new element in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is the principle of no double counting.






IMG 0744






Effort Sharing Regulation: Council adopts emission reduction targets, 14 May 2018


Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 contributing to climate action to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation (EU) No 525/2013, 26 April 2018, 2016/0231 (COD), PE-CONS 3/18


European Commission‘s Press release - UN climate conference makes progress on Paris Agreement implementation, 18 November 2017


Commission report: Two years after Paris - Progress towards meeting the EU's climate commitments (November 2017)


Paris agreement


European Commission's press release of 2 March 2016 Climate Action: Europe readies next steps to implement the Paris Agreement IP/16/502


Questions and answers on the Paris Agreement


Proposal for a Council Decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2.3.2016 COM(2016) 62 final, 2016/0036 (NLE)


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, The Road from Paris: assessing the implications of the Paris Agreement and accompanying the proposal for a Council decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Paris agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2.3.2016 COM(2016) 110 final


Opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety for the Committee on Regional Development on the role of EU regions and cities in implementing the COP 21 Paris Agreement on climate change, 24.11.2017, (2017/2006(INI))


The Paris Agreement: A new framework for global climate action, EPRS Briefing, January 2016 














European Commission's website on Paris agreement


Energy Union







Source of the attachment: the UNFCCC website 


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