December 7, 2023

Final Draft Paris Agreement in a Nutshell

Alicia Nicholls

The final draft of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been released. So far the reaction from the international community and from global civil society has been largely positive but with some reservations that the Agreement does not go far enough.

Delegates will be voting shortly on whether to adopt the Agreement. Though 31-pages long, the actual Paris Agreement itself (minus the preamble) is just 11 pages long. The key points in the final draft text are:

  • Long-term temperature increase target: Parties agree to aim to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. This appears to represent a compromise position between small island developing States’ position of 1.5 degrees Celsius and the general international consensus of 2 degrees Celsius. It is not entirely what SIDS were hoping for but it is a lot more ambitious than the alternative.
  • A mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development has been established under the authority and guidance of the Conference of the Parties. A share of the proceeds from activities under the mechanism are to be used to cover administrative expenses and to assist developing country parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change to meet the costs of adaptation.
  • Recognition of Loss and Damage: Parties recognize the importance of averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change. The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, established at COP19 in 2013, will be one of the mechanisms for facilitation and cooperation and may be enhanced or strengthened as determined by the Parties. A weakness is that it includes that this “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.
  • Emissions reductions: In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out, Parties agree to aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science. The aim is to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.
  • Climate Finance: A USD 100 billion dollar floor. Developed country Parties agreed to scale up efforts to provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation and should continue to take the lead in mobilizing climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels. Other Parties are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily. Developed countries are to report on support on a biennial basis. Other Parties  are to do so voluntarily. The Financial Mechanism of the Convention is to serve as the financial mechanism for the Paris Agreement.
  • Technology Transfer: Parties are to strengthen cooperative action on technology development and transfer. A Technology Mechanism and Technology Framework have been established under the Agreement to facilitate this. Support, including financial support, is to be provided to developing country Parties for implementation.
  • Capacity-building: The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement is to consider and adopt a decision on the initial institutional arrangements for capacity-building at its first session.
  • Transparency Framework: The Agreement establishes an enhanced transparency framework for action and support which takes into account Parties’ different capacities.
  • Stocktaking/Five Year Reviews: The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall undertake its first global stocktake in 2023 and every five years thereafter unless otherwise decided. This was a major win for small states.
  • Compliance Mechanism: A mechanism to facilitate implementation of and promote compliance with the provisions of this Agreement has been established which will consist of a committee that will be expert-based. However, the fact that it is to be facilitative and “non-punitive” in nature  raises questions about enforceability.
  • Reservations Policy. No reservations may be made to the Agreement.

The full text may be accessed here.

My full article analysing the agreement can be accessed here: The COP21 Paris Agreement: A Partial but Important Victory for SIDS and the World But Just the Beginning 

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.



The Caribbean Trade Law and Development Blog is owned and was founded by Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. (Dist.), LL.B. (Hons), a Caribbean-based trade and development consultant. She writes and presents regularly on trade and development matters affecting the Caribbean and other small states. You can follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw. All views expressed on this Blog are Alicia's personal views and do NOT necessarily reflect the views of any institution or entity with which she may from time to time be affiliated.

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