Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty signed in 2015 by 197 countries under the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Its primary objective is to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
The Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change and to support their efforts to adapt to its effects. It also seeks to increase financial flows to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries are required to submit national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), every five years. These plans outline the steps each country will take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The Paris Agreement also established a mechanism to promote cooperation among countries, known as the “global stocktake,” which will occur every five years. The stocktake will assess the collective progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and identify areas where additional efforts are needed.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016, and as of 2021, 191 countries have ratified the agreement. The United States, under the previous administration, withdrew from the agreement in 2020 but rejoined under the current administration in 2021.
In summary, the Paris Agreement is a global effort to combat climate change by limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and supporting countries in adapting to the impacts of climate change.
What is the difference between the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement?
The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement are both international treaties aimed at addressing global climate change but there are several key differences between the two agreements
- Binding vs. non-binding: The Kyoto Protocol was a legally binding treaty that required developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by a specified amount. The Paris Agreement, on the other hand, is a non-binding agreement that relies on the voluntary commitments by countries to reduce their emisions.
- Scope: The Kyoto Protocol only applied to developed countries, while the Paris Agreement applies to all countries, including both developed and developing countries
- Emisions reduction targets: Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries were assigned specific emmission reduction targets that they were required to meet. Under the Paris Agreement, countries submit their own voluntary emisions reduction targets, known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- Timeframe: The Kyoto Protocol called for a 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 level by the pariod between 2008 and 2012, while the Paris Agreement which was signed in 2015, covers the period after 2020 up to 2030. Under the Paris Agreement, all countries who have signed up aim to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing the means to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.
- Adaption: The Paris Agreement places a greater emphasis on adaptation to the impacts of climate change, including providing financial and technical support to developing countries, though climate financing mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund.
In summary, the main differences between the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement are that the Kyoto Protocol was a legally binding treaty with specific emissions reduction targets for developed countries, while the Paris Agreement is a non-binding agreement with voluntary emissions reduction targets for all countries, and whereas the Kyoto Protocol focused on mitigation, under the Paris Agreement there is a greater emphasis on adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
How does New Zealand intend to meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement?
New Zealand has committed to a 50% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. In order to achieve this target, New Zealand has put in place a range of domestic policy measures including the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS). New Zealand intends to meet its commitments mainly through domestic measures. However, it does not rule out accessing carbon credits via internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
What can I do if I am an organization that wants to go carbon neutral?
If you are an organisation that wants to go carbon neutral, there are several steps you can take:
- Measure your emissions: Before you can reduce your emissions, you need to know how much you are emitting. You can calculate your organisation’s carbon footprint by using tools such as the GHG Protocol or carbon calculators.
- Set a target: Once you knwo your emissions, you can set a target for reducing them. A common target is to achieve net-zero emissions, which means that any remaining emissions are offset by activities that remove carbon from the atmosphere.
- Manage and Reduce your emissions: Impliments measures to reduce your emissions, such as increasing energy efficiency, using renewable energy, switching to low-emissions trasport, and reducing waste.
- Mitigate and offset your emissions: After you have reduced your emissions as much as possible, you can offset any remaining emissions by purchasing carbon credits or investing in projestc that reduce emissions, such as renewable energy or reforestation projects.
- Communicate to your commitment: Let your stakeholders know about your commitment to going carbon-neutral and the steps you are taking to achieve it. This can help build support got your organisation’s efforts and encourage others to take action on climate change.
- Continuously monitor and improve: Regularly monitor your emissions and progress towards your target, and identify opportunities for further emissions reductions or offsets.
Going carbon neutral requires a commitment to reducing emissions, investing in clean energy and technology, and taking responsibility for the environmental impact of your organisation. It is an important step towards addressing the urgent issue of climate change and creating a more sustainable future.
What can I do if I am an individual who wants to purchase and trade carbon credits?
In general, it is not recommended for individuals to purchase or trade carbon credits due to the risks involved. However, in New Zealand, residents can open an account in the New Zealand Emissions Unit Register and buy and sell New Zealand Units (NZUs).