It was wonderful to hear on 12 December 2015 that the participating 195 countries had agreed, by consensus, to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In the 12-page document, the members agreed to reduce their carbon output "as soon as possible" and to do their best to keep global warming "to well below 2 degrees C".
It wasn't possible for news agencies to delve into the detail of the agreement, but this 12 page agreement packs a lot of punches. If it is implemented, it will be an amazing global collaboration. You can read the complete Paris Agreement is on pages 21 - 32 (Annex) of this document:
In addition to the nationally determined commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are commitments to share information, technology, climate data and money.
AdaptationThe commitments related to adaptation may have implications for New Zealand councils, particularly as all parties to the agreement will be required to prepare and submit national adaptation plans.
Article 7, point 11 (on page 26 of the attached document) states that: "The adaptation communication referred to in paragraph 10 of this Article shall be, as appropriate, submitted and updated periodically, as a component of or in conjunction with other communications or documents, including a national adaptation plan, a nationally determined contribution as referred to in Article 4, paragraph 2, and/or a national communication."
Ratification of the AgreementThe Paris Agreement will not become binding on its member states until 55 parties who produce over 55% of the world's greenhouse gas have ratified the Agreement. The ratification process is scheduled to occur between April 2016 and April 2017.
Global StocktakeThe implementation of the agreement by all member countries together will be evaluated every five years, with the first evaluation in 2023. The stocktake will not be of contributions/achievements of individual countries but a collective analysis of what has been achieved and what more needs to be done.
Anyone who has prepared a carbon inventory for a council will know that this is a huge task for the United Nations!