Feature Report: The Challenges of Applying the Paris Agreement

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COP22 and COP23: Decisions "On Hold", Increased CO2 Emissions

After the Paris Agreement, adopted at the COP21 Climate Change Conference, two more “Conferences of the Parties” were held: COP22, in November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, and COP23 in November 2017 in Bonn, Germany. They confirmed all the main points of the Paris Agreement, but postponed several new and indispensable decisions to COP24 in 2018, which will be held in Poland.

Image of the representatives of the main countries at COP23, on November 15, 2017 in Bonn, Germany, under the chairmanship of Fiji.
Representatives of the main countries at COP23, on November 15, 2017, in Bonn, Germany, chaired by Fiji. ©PATRIK STOLLARZ / AFP

State of Ratification

The Paris AgreementOil contract under which the oil that is produced is shared between the state and the oil company... was formally ratified one month before the Marrakech conference, having reached the critical threshold of 55 nations, accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas (ghg) Gas with physical properties that cause the Earth's atmosphere to warm up. There are a number of naturally occurring greenhouse gases... emissions. By the time the Bonn conference was held, 171 countries1 had ratified the Agreement, out of the 193 which had signed it. Among the “missing”, or non-ratifying countries were Russia, which is waiting for “technical details” to be settled, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Oman. Also missing were several countries at war or in economic crisis. In addition, since Marrakech, a serious uncertainty has arisen, as U.S. President Donald Trump has announced his country’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, which will not enter into force until late 2020.

30%: China’s contribution to global CO2 emissions.

Results of COP22

COP22 took the initiative in moving up the finishing touches on the “user’s manual”, or work program, for the Paris Agreement to 2018. The Agreement will enter into force in 2020, but a certain number of complex methods must be determined beforehand, such as how to consistently measure emissions produced by industry, homes, transportation, energy and agriculture throughout all the countries, how to measure emissions, and how to send the data to international organizations.

With the work program, the countries can begin to enforce their “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and improve them. One of the innovations of COP21 was to ask countries to submit voluntary GHG emissions reduction targets. Nearly every country complied, but as things stand today, the NDCs are insufficient to keep global warmingGlobal warming, also called planetary warming or climate change... below 2°C, as they only cover one-third of the GHG emissions reduction that climate scientists deem necessary.

Results of COP23

COP23 was chaired by Fiji, one of the island nations most threatened by global warming, but held in Germany for logistical reasons. The conference merely confirmed the importance of the upcoming 2018 meeting in Katowice, Poland, which should establish a collective report on the NDCs. A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)Body established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988... will be published in 2018 specifying the efforts to be made.

During COP23, developing economies were not always in agreement with industrialized nations on the difficult question of climate investment financing by rich-world countries, which should be $100 billion a year by 2020.

Global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels began creeping upward again in 2017, after three years during which they were practically unchanged.

CO2 Emissions Increasing Again

During the Bonn conference, a report published by the Global Carbon Project2 raised serious concerns. Worldwide emissions of CO2See Carbon Dioxid resulting specifically from manufacturing and fossil fuels began creeping upward again in 2017 by around 2%, after three years during which they were practically unchanged. China, the country with the highest absolute emissions, saw its emissions rise by 3.5% due to its consumption of coalCoal is ranked by its degree of transformation or maturity, increasing in carbon content from... (up 3%), oil (up 5%), and natural gas (up 12%); all of which rose as a result of its continued economic growth of over 6.5% in 2017.

GHG emissions in the U.S. continued to decrease, but at a lower rate, as a result of reduced consumption of coal to the benefit of shale gasShale gas is found in deeply buried clayey sedimentary rock that is both the source rock and the reservoir for the gas... . The U.S. government has also recently changed its energy policy to make it more favorable to coal production.

Worldwide, China produces 30%, or 10.2 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 emissions, followed by the United States (5.3 GtCO2), the European Union (3.5 GtCO2), India (2.4 GtCO2), Russia (1.6 GtCO2), Japan (1.2 GtCO2), and Germany (0.8 GtCO2). France is in 19th place, behind the United Kingdom and Italy.

Renewable energies are growing at a rapid rate (14% on average per year since 2012), but according to the study several more years must pass before this has any significant impact on global CO2 emissions.



(1) See the list of countries on the UN website

(2) Read the report