A Worthless Piece Of Paper
By Paul Homewood
There have been many media reports that the Paris Agreement is a legally binding one, at least in part.
It is therefore important to understand which bits of it are.
There are many administrative clauses in the Agreement, but the ones that are of any significance and are legally binding appear to be:
The existing INDC’s are already agreed to become formal NDC’s once the Agreement is ratified, so effectively this refers to future plans, which are agreed to be made every five years.
It is also agreed that support be provided to developing countries, but there is no specific amount mentioned, or timescale.
We then come on to GHG stocktaking, which crucially is up to the countries themselves, and not independently verified.
So we find two basic areas where there is some sort of legally binding agreement:
1) Submitting of new Nationally Determined Contributions every five years.
2) A five-yearly GHG stocktake, which will commence in 2023.
Although in theory there is an obligation that each future plan should reflect a progression on the previous one, this will in practice stand for very little, as countries are free to come up with whatever plan they like, and plead extenuating circumstances.
The bottom line is that there is no provision to fine or otherwise punish any country that fails to meet its targets.