COP21 The content of the Paris Agreement is surprisingly positive. ”But we now have to give it substance. The parties that have signed up to the agreement must put their cards on the table when they take this decision home and set to work on putting the targets into practice,” says Erik Filipsson, Policy Advisor at Vattenfall, in a commentary on the recently concluded climate agreement.

Erik Filipsson sees three aspects in particular of the final draft of the Paris Agreement, which will come into being in 2020, as being particularly positive.

"It's the fact that the overall aim of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius has been consolidated, and that joint efforts will be pursued to achieve a target of 1.5 degrees. I think a lot of people were surprised that they managed to reach a consensus on this."

More effective trading system
Another positive aspect of the Paris Agreement is that it contains provisions which could help develop the European Union’s emissions trading system, EU ETS, and also link it to other trading systems.

"It's important that the agreement now provides the opportunity for countries that have achieved a reduction in emissions and exceeded their targets to transfer the excess to another party through an international market. Vattenfall advocates the idea of evening out or distributing efforts geographically, particularly since this creates a basis for linking the various global trading systems together. We want the EU's ETS to be more global. With the wording we now have in the Paris Agreement, we have a platform whereby, in the long term, the EU, New Zealand and China, for example, could link up their markets," says Erik Filipsson, and continues:

"As well as enabling transfers of this kind between countries, the Paris Agreement also established a new international mechanism which is designed to help cut emissions and to promote sustainable development. This too is a really positive move. This type of mechanism has already proved to be an effective way of engaging industry in climate initiatives, and it may help support developing countries through both funding and new technology."

Important updates
Under the Paris Agreement, countries will submit updated climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), every five years, thereby gradually raising their ambitions in such a way that global emissions of greenhouse gases are actually limited in line with the 2°C (and 1.5°C) target.

"Vattenfall is in favour of the regular reviewing of emissions plans in this way, which was also one of the EU's main requirements during the negotiations. This review is important in that it prevents us from being locked into an agreement that doesn't yet have sufficiently ambitious emissions targets. The plans will be updated for the first time in 2020 when the agreement comes into force."

Content is lacking
The climate agreement defines the framework for what needs to be done. But, according to Erik Filipsson, it doesn't cover everything.

"The really difficult issue of who will increase their targets most and what constitutes a fair distribution wasn't specifically discussed; the focus was more on general principles. The agreement makes reference to NDCs but they're not included in the actual agreement and they're not legally binding. This is essential if support for the climate agreement is to be as broad as possible and it is to be possible for all parties to ratify the agreement. The target for the necessary funding was also slightly out.."

"There are high hopes in terms of temperature and funding, but we now have to give them substance. The parties that have signed up to the agreement must put their cards on the table when they take the agreement home and set to work on putting the targets into practice. This will require new policies and reforms. An agreement is worth nothing if the measures aren't put into practice."

Must be ratified
If the Paris Agreement is to enter into force in 2020 it must be ratified, i.e. formally accepted by the decision-making bodies in at least 55 countries which represent at least 55 per cent of global emissions.

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