The Paris Agreement Report Card: Assessing Progress in Global Climate Change

The Paris Agreement, a global commitment to combat climate change, was signed in 2015 by 197 countries. The goal of the agreement is to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In order to track progress towards these goals, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) releases an annual report card on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The 2020 report card, released in December, presents a mixed picture of progress. While some countries and regions have made significant strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning towards renewable energy, overall progress is not enough to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

One positive development is that renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world. This has led to an increase in the use of wind and solar power, as well as a decrease in the use of coal. The European Union, for example, has set a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and has already reduced emissions by 24% since 1990.

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has also made progress in reducing emissions. The country has pledged to peak its emissions by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. China has already launched the world’s largest carbon trading scheme and is investing heavily in renewable energy.

However, many countries are failing to meet their emissions reduction targets. The UNFCCC report found that global emissions have continued to rise, with 2020 being one of the hottest years on record. The Covid-19 pandemic led to a temporary decrease in emissions, but this is not sustainable and emissions are expected to rebound in the coming years.

The United States, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, withdrew from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the agreement and to set a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. This will require significant changes to the US economy, including transitioning away from fossil fuels and investing heavily in clean energy.

In conclusion, the Paris Agreement report card shows that while progress has been made, it is not enough to meet the goals set out in the agreement. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that rapid changes in behavior and policy are possible, but sustained efforts are needed to transition to a low-carbon economy. Governments, businesses, and individuals all have a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change. The Paris Agreement provides a framework for collaboration and action, but it is up to all of us to turn these commitments into reality.