THE PARIS AGREEMENT (Accord de Paris)

On December 12th, 2015 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed in Paris to combat the emerging global problem of climate change and increase actions that will ensure a low carbon future. This agreement brings all nations to come together and address the threats posed by climate change which range from variations in weather patterns to adverse effects such as drought, drying of water sources and many others. As a result, it sets a new path in the global climate change effort.

Paris agreement aims at strengthening the response to the threat posed by climate change globally through keeping overall temperature rise below two degrees Celcius this century. Also, another aim of the agreement is to improve the ability of nations to tackle the effects of climate change. To achieve this, financial resources have been mobilized and channeled to ensure these goals are met. Additionally, the flow of finances aims at enabling countries to obtain and use the necessary resources to combat the effects of climate change. Some of the crucial aspects of the Paris agreement include:

Long term temperature goals. The Paris agreement through its broad range of strategies is seeking to strengthen the response to climate change globally, by ensuring average temperature rise in this century remains below 2 degrees celsius and future rise be below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Another aspect is mitigation. All the parties under the Paris Agreement are committed to ensuring communication and maintaining a nationally determined contribution (NDC) and device measures to achieve them. Also, all parties under the agreement are required to communicate their NDCs after every 5 years.

KYOTO PROTOCOL

In 1997 over 160 parties to the UNFCC adopted the Kyoto protocol in Japan. The protocol establishes and monitors limits regarding emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for countries that have undergone industrialization.  In addition to carbon dioxide, other gases include nitrous oxide, methane, sulfur hexafluoride, and hydrofluorocarbons. Other gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) also exhibit “greenhouse” characteristics but, because of their effects on stratospheric ozone depletion, are controlled by the Montreal Protocol on substances. Such gases are referred to as “greenhouse gases” because they can trap infrared radiation from the earth’s surface, a radiation that is supposed to be reflected into space. This radiation results in the warming of the earth and its atmosphere. Hence, the main goal of the Kyoto protocol is to control the emission of greenhouse gases. Some of the principal components of the Kyoto protocol include:

Binding agreements for the Annex I parties. The main feature is that it established legally binding commitments to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases for Annex I parties. Another component is implementation where annex one parties were required to devise policies and measures for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Also, accounting, reporting, and review are done to ensure the integrity of the protocol.

UNITED KINGDOM CLIMATE CHANGE BILL

Climate change bill is an act of United Kingdom parliament which aims at ensuring that it is the duty of the UK secretary of state in ensuring that the UK carbon levels account for all the greenhouse gases described in the Kyoto protocol. This act aims to ensure that carbon levels are at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline, to avoid dangerous climate change. Also, it ensured the  UK  become a carbon low economy by giving ministers powers to introduce measures necessary to achieve a range of greenhouse gas reduction targets.  The act has seen an independent committee created whose main purpose is advising the UK government concerning the climate change policies. The bill specifically aimed at reducing the number of greenhouse gases by 80% by the year 2050. Since the passing of the bill, a considerable number of achievements have been seen, and they include:

First, The Climate Change Act has made it formal on how the UK is addressing climate change by providing a clear direction to be followed. Also, the level of UK emissions has continued to reduce since the passing of the Act in 2008. For instance, in 2018 the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions were 44% below 1990 levels.  Finally, reaffirmed the position of the UK as a global leader in climate change. Legislation concerning climate change have been introduced in other countries such as Sweden and they have been tied to the Climate Change Act.

UNITED STATES CLIMATE POLICIES

The United States is the largest consumer of energy and the second-largest country emitting greenhouse gases immediately after China. Therefore, it is important that it formed a policy on climate change and global warming. US policy of climate change can be divided into three periods. The first was when there was increasing awareness about the influence of human activities on climate in the early 1980s. Over the past few years, US climate policy has transformed and is being developed at the State and federal level. Additionally, the US was part of negotiations that led to the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a nonbinding treaty calling for reductions in greenhouse emissions worldwide.

The second period of US climate policy was during the administration of former president Bill Clinton. During this time, the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, was signed by the Clinton administration in 1998. However, the U.S. law dictates that treaties do should not enter into force until they’re signed by the executive branch and given a go-ahead by the legislative branch. Opposition from the Congress made it difficult for the Kyoto Protocol to be ratified. In 2001, the George W. Bush administration withdrew from the Kyoto protocol and pursued policies aiming at reducing emissions. The United States later signed the UNFCCC followed by sending it by president Bush for ratification to the U.S. Senate, which voted to ratify by a two-thirds majority in October 1992.

The treaty required a commitment that the industrialized countries of the world referred to as the “Annex I” countries would by the year 2000 have restricted their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. Also, it stated that all countries, including those not on the Annex I list, would make deliberate efforts to restrict their greenhouse-gas emissions without affecting food production or economic development. U.S. policy since that date has been consistent. The United States has officially acknowledged the reality of climate change and is on the process of mitigating the effects of climate change. However, it still insists on prioritizing its economic interests.

AUSTRALIA FEDERAL AND STATE CLIMATE LAWS

Environment and climate change laws and regulations are concerned with common issues in the environment and climate change laws and regulations. Climate change has always brought divisions in  Australian politics.  In 1998 Australia set up the world’s first national government agency dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is until 2007 when the Labor party won that the Kyoto protocol that it had signed in 1998 was ratified. Following the Federal election in 2010, the Government began to form concerted efforts to pass national climate change legislation and this led to the introduction of the Clean Energy Act, which contained 18 bills.

Federal Australian State Clean Energy Act sets a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent from 2000 levels by 2050. The law led to the introduction of a fixed carbon price, applicable to large polluters, which became effective from July 2012.

It is great new to see countries coming together to deal with the ever changing climatic conditions