Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Support

Bluesky Facebook LinkedIn Mastodon MeWe

Twitter YouTube RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


After COP21: 7 Key Tasks to Implement the Paris Agreement

Posted on 6 April 2016 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from the World Resources Institute by Eliza Northrop 

The Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 last year reflects the collective vision of 195 countries, but it is only the start. While the Agreement lays out essential goals, the ability to achieve these goals will depend on the rules, guidelines and processes adopted to implement the Agreement —and these will be hammered out in the months and years to come.

The newly created Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), made up of all the Parties that adopted the Agreement last year, will develop most of the new rules and guidelines. The group will meet multiple times a year, starting in May 2016, and will be supported by existing UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) bodies such as the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

Some of this work must be completed by the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, which will occur once the Agreement enters into force (see a related blog post on when the Agreement will take effect). There is no certainty as to when this will happen, but it certainly could be well before 2020. Parties will likely need to agree on a new work plan at COP22 in Morocco later this year to ensure that remaining tasks are completed in time.

Below are seven key areas for Parties to focus their attention between now and the first meeting:

1. Provide Guidance for Countries to Increase their Ambition

The Paris Agreement puts in place a critically important process for countries to increase the ambition of their climate plans, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), every five years in order to achieve the long-term goals of the Agreement.  In 2018, Parties will collectively take stock of countries’ emissions reductions, and then update their NDCs or submit new ones by 2020.  After 2020, a regular “Global Stocktake” will take place every five years starting in 2023 to review all aspects of Agreement implementation, including mitigation, adaptation, finance and support. Parties will then submit new NDCs every five years, informed by these Global Stocktakes.

Determining exactly how this process will take place is vital to the strength of the new Paris regime. 

Much work must be done to decide both on the inputs that will be used to monitor progress toward the Agreement’s goals, and the outputs that will inform Parties’ future actions. Guidelines for the initial stocktake in 2018 are the most pressing task, while those for the later Global Stocktakes must be developed as well.  The APA must also develop further guidance to assist Parties in submitting their future NDCs.

2. Ensure Transparency and Accountability

The Paris Agreement’s backbone is a transparency framework to track how countries are progressing on their commitments. Rules for how this framework will operate are essential for holding Parties accountable and for enhancing understanding among countries.

To do this, the APA must develop common rules, procedures and guidelines to enhance the UNFCCC’s current Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system by 2018. These guidelines are key to improving transparency, reporting and environmental integrity, but they must also provide developing countries with the flexibility needed to reflect their different capabilities and national circumstances.

The APA has also been tasked with developing accounting guidance to track progress towards NDCs, guided by agreed upon principles. This guidance will apply to the next round of NDCs communicated by Parties.

In addition to developing rules to ensure transparency ahead of the first meeting of the Parties, the APA has also been tasked with developing the modalities and procedures for the expert-based committee to facilitate implementation and promote compliance established in the Agreement.

3. Track Climate Finance

Effectively and accurately tracking climate finance is a core challenge for the international climate regime to ensure that finance is flowing and meeting its intended objectives. The Paris Agreement tasked the SBSTA to develop by 2018 accounting rules for Parties to follow in order to better track public climate finance and increase transparency. Developed countries also committed to continue reporting every two years on finance they’ve provided and mobilized, and also start reporting on public funding they intend to provide in following years. The Agreement encourages developing countries to also follow this practice. The APA is tasked with determining the specific information these countries should report, when it will be due, and how it will be reviewed.

4. Create an Adaptation Cycle of Ambition

The Paris Agreement finally puts adaptation on par with mitigation and recognizesloss and damage as a distinct concept within the international climate regime. The Adaptation Committee must now develop a process for recognizing developing nations’ adaptation efforts and methodologies for assessing adaptation needs, work that could be critical in supporting countries in developing their periodic adaptation communications in ways that allow for a clearer and more uniform synthesis to inform the Global Stocktake.

5. Design the First Dedicated Committee for Capacity Building

Many developing countries still lack the necessary finance, skills and knowledge to undertake climate mitigation and adaptation actions. So the Agreement called for a designated body for capacity building, known as the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB), to ensure that all countries can meet their commitments. The PCCB will oversee a four-year work plan, starting this year, to address gaps and needs, and ensure coordination of efforts in capacity-building activities in developing countries. The SBI will develop the terms of reference for the PCCB this year, with the expectation that Parties will formally adopt them at COP22.  

6. Decide How Countries Can Achieve their Mitigation Targets Cooperatively

The Agreement allows Parties to pursue their mitigation outcomes cooperatively, potentially utilizing both market means—such as emissions-trading schemes—and non-market means, like policies or financial assistance. These cooperative approaches will be undertaken through a new mechanism, the purpose of which is to incentivize mitigation while fostering sustainable development, and guided by a new framework for non-market approaches to sustainable development.  How the mechanism will operate, and what the framework is, must now be determined by the SBSTA ahead of the first meeting of the Parties. 

7. Create a New Technology Framework

The Paris Agreement provides a long-term vision for developing new technologies and enabling the transfer of these technologies from the developed to the developing world in order to help nations mitigate and adapt to climate change.  Ahead of the first meeting of the Parties, the SBSTA must lay out the details of a framework to support this goal.

Although the exact timing of the first meeting of the Parties is not yet known, it’s clear that there’s a lot of work to do between now and then. Parties should begin this work at the first meeting of the APA in May this year, and agree on a robust work plan with clear sequencing for putting the key elements in place. The quality of the rules and procedures developed in the coming years will ultimately determine the success of the Paris Agreement.

0 0

Printable Version  |  Link to this page


Comments 1 to 18:

  1. As an interested observer, I'm curious about the effects of this process that ordinary people should be able to perceive in the near future.  Consider the system to be a black box.  You pump in all this Paris stuff at one end and then observe what comes out the other end.  Here are a few random suggestions off the top of my head:

    (1) Fossil fuel becomes increasingly expensive.

    (2) There is a progressive decline in the production of fossil fuel.

    (3) Electric vehicles become increasingly common.

    (4) The generation of electricity from renewable sources accelerates.

    (5) Agricultural practices begin a drastic change to new methods.

    Is this a valid way of looking at it?  Are there other effects we will be able to see?  In other words, I'm saying that all this talk is so far rather academic.  I'd like to know what tangible outcomes ordinary people should be able see — outcomes that will give us the confidence to believe that we're on the right track.  Conversely, if we don't see these outcomes, we'll know that humanity has blown it.

    1 0
  2. Digby Scorgie@1,

    well said. I would also add to it: how binding is this Paris Agreement os sar? Are interested parties committed to stay in it, and the defectors face substantial (higher than potential economic slowdown due to decline of FF production) penalties?

    I can easily foresee the scenario that ASA a republican candidate sush as Trump (or even worse Cruz) wins the presidency, US pulls out of that agreement, then your last and greatest fears: "humanity has blown it" ensured. :(

    0 0
  3. The tension is over the fact 1.5 degrees of warming has already been locked in and the poorer countries know any tactics designed to try and limit the warming to 1.5 degrees are by definition even more facsistic than the tactics the developed world has ever used against them before.

    In short, the tension arises from the fact nobody is starting with the truth.

    0 0
  4. Digby Scorgie@1 - I would suggest that actuallly fossil fuels will become increasingly cheap, as demand will drop off leaving stranded assets

    0 0
  5. Jubble,

    You are referring to expectations in an unregulated and free to do as it pleased market full of people able to get away with whatever they wished.

    In such a Free Market it is clear that fossil fuels would continue to be burned for the benefit of the wealthiest, no meaningful movement from the status quo because the caring and considerate willing to behave better will not solve the problems caused by the less caring and less considerate still able to get away with pursuing their personal interest in ways they grew accustomed to getting away with.

    That clearly cannot be allowed to continue. So the Free Market expectation of lower price for everyone as demand drops cannot be the reality. The drop in demand will be due to the enforced reduced benefit obtained by the already fortunate from the burning of fossil fuels. The most fortunate will either be effectively restricted from benefiting or face very high costs, while the least fortunate would get to burn at low cost (no profit pocketed by any more fortunate people) but only as a temporary measure for their rapid transition to a sustainable better life that would not involve burning fossil fuels.

    0 0
  6. OPOF #5

    Yes, that was my reasoning.  If fossil fuels remain cheap for the next decade or two, we'll know that humanity has blown it.

    To return to the characteristics of a country that is taking meaningful action to avert global warming, should I have included forestry in my list?  Are there any other characteristics I've omitted?

    I live in New Zealand where I observe no action whatsoever on any of my listed characteristics, except perhaps electricity generation.  But we're in the fortunate position of being able to rely heavily on hydro-electricity.  There has been some movement in recent years to introducing more wind farms, but these tend to meet resistance — they spoil the scenery, and there is not much of New Zealand that is not scenic.

    0 0
  7. DS

    "Are there other effects we will be able to see?"

    Substantial improvements in energy efficiency across the board.

    0 0
  8. Digby Scorgie,

    A few other indications that the message about the required changes is sinking in would be:

    • Reduced plans to produce overpowered oversized personal use vehicles.
    • Reduced resale value of overpowered oversized personal use vehicles.
    • Increased public transit networks with increased renewable energy driving them.
    • Leaders (in power and in opposition), all declaring openly and frequently that the change needs to happen even if the message is not popular with the "commonly considered to be locked-in reliable voter base of a particular leader's party". And having them all honestly and most fully inform the entire population rather than deceptively try to gain political popularity through misleading messages.

    The last point will require the development and implementation of effective laws regarding full and proper presentation of information on an important issue like this (similar to the laws that have recently been developed for commercial marketing - but needing to be more effective than the commercial ones), and effective enforcement of those laws. Of course, many of the current people in positions of influence and leadership related to the making up of the rules can be expected to be reluctant to do this. This change of the game would have far greater impact than helping to more effectively advance humanity out of the damaging fossil fuel burning phase that has been so difficult to break free of (like breaking out of any other damaging addiction the first step is publicly admitting to the problem, then constantly working to overcome the tempting influence of those who would try to tempt the addicted into returning to, prolonging or increasing their addiction).

    0 0
  9. Digby Scorgie,

    A couple of other things to look for:

    • Reduced global meat consumption, particularly beef.
    • Increased planting of vegetable protein crops (like beans). This one is already starting to happen in Western Canada.
    • Reduced rainforest destruction, transitioning to reestablishing rainforest extent.
    • And yes global expansion of forestry practices that selectively harvest fully mature trees in designated harvest zones while reducing the extent of zones where trees are harvested and locking in the harvest to those zones (unlike the common Western Canadian practice of permitting new areas be harvested rather than requiring the harvesters to manage their future on a set area of land they have to manage the effective regrowth of to have a future).
    0 0
  10. Glenn #7

    I presume that a decreasing per-capita demand for electricity would imply increasing energy efficiency?

    OPOF #8, 9

    I think my item on electric vehicles could be modified to cater for your comment about transport.  In essence the whole transportation system would have to be seen to be changing to one less reliant on fossil fuel.

    Regarding politicians, seeing politicians of all persuasions agreeing on the problem posed by climate change would be an indication of a country's commitment to tackling the problem.  But is it an essential characteristic?

    Your comment about meat and vegetable protein is probably included in my item on agricultural practices.  In fact, delete "agri" and you get "cultural practices", which would indeed have to change if people are to eat less meat!

    Finally, you have persuaded me that I should not have been so hesitant about forestry.  It should go on the list as a separate item from agriculture.

    Additional thoughts

    Another belated thought of mine is that the approach to buildings, both commercial and residential, should also be seen to change to designs that require less energy to maintain.  There is not much one can do about existing building stock, but at least new buildings can be constructed to a much more environmentally friendly building code.

    We would probably end up with a check-list of about ten items against which to measure the performance of countries.  I reckon my own (New Zealand) would score one in ten — unless our benighted politicians pull finger!

    However, I have to end by saying that I'm aware that many people are going to a lot of trouble to compute each country's emissions.  Theoretically these are all that should be necessary to track a country's progress.  Unfortunately, from all I've read, these computations seem fraught with error and subject to abuse.  I put no trust in them.  I'd much sooner trust a list of the kind I've been sketching, one that lists practical and tangible steps that all can see.

    0 0
  11. Digby Scorgie,

    I agree with including things like the energy efficiency of buildings in the list.

    In keeping with the identification of broader categories "reduced energy consumption" may be the category for the variety of reductions of energy consumption that should be developing. Even the consumption of sustainable energy should be reduced because there are other unsustainable implications related to any type of energy production and distribution, not just the global warming ones (however, burning fossil fuels is clearly the least sustainable way of getting useable energy because unlike the resources required for other methods of energy generation fossil fuels cannot practically be recycled).

    And I agree that identifying changes people can personally observe would be a good way to raise awareness of the adaptation/change of their local portion of humanity to the necessary changes required to advance global humanity to a lasting better future for all. 

    0 0
  12. OPOF

    Yes, a decreasing per-capita demand for electricity could be due to both increasing efficiency and increasing sustainability.

    Right, so the next time some politician says we're reducing our emissions, I can look at my list and say, "These are the things that need to happen.  They are not.  You are wrong."

    0 0
  13. I've thought of a problem.  Some oil is needed to manufacture plastics.  If there is an accelerating increase in the cost of fossil fuel, what is the effect on plastic products?  Also, can plastics be manufactured without having to burn fossil fuel?

    0 0
  14. Digby Scorgie, Plastics can be made from any oil and burning fossil fuels is not required. Making plastic from fossil oil would also be fine. However, any plastic should be for durable plastic items able to be completely recycled after its long use.

    0 0
  15. OPOF, okay, so you don't need to burn fossil fuel to make plastics.  But if the oil required becomes increasingly expensive, plastic products would also become increasingly expensive, would they not?  Or is this where recycling comes in?

    0 0
  16. Digby Scorgie,

    The burning of oil is what needs to be restricted. Making that specific action expensive is one way to achieve that required objective. A more important point is that light hydrocarbons like methane, ethane, and propane are better feedstock for making plastic. So burning natural gas is a poor action to address the CO2 problem. Not only does burning natural gas generate 50% as much CO2 as burning coal, which makes carbon capture and storage with coal burning better than natural gas burning without CCS, burning natural gas also burns up the best materials to make plastics from.

    0 0
  17. OPOF, okay, as I understand it then, it's not so much fossil fuel that has to become increasingly expensive, but the burning thereof.

    0 0
  18. Digby Scorgie

    (1) Fossil fuel becomes increasingly expensive relative to renewables

    0 0

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2024 John Cook
Home | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us