Climate initiatives, national contributions and the Paris Agreement

In December 2015 Parties adopted the Paris Agreement at the 21st session of the UNFCCC. In its Article 2 governments agreed to limit global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and to pursue to limit it to 1.5°C (UNFCCC 2015). According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to decrease by at least 40% to 70% below current levels by 2050, in order to hold temperature increase below 2°C. During the preparation of the Paris Agreement the Work Stream II of the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) focused on enhancing mitigation actions up to 2020, with the objective to increase efforts in the near future already. This is necessary as the existing mitigation proposals for the year 2020 are insufficient to hold the temperature increase below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2015 showed that a gap of 14 GtCO2e exists for 2030 between the mitigation proposals submitted by Parties as part of their INDCs and a pathway compatible with holding temperature increase below 2°C (UNEP 2015b). The report also stresses the importance of pre- 2020 action for achieving the overall mitigation target.