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Successes and Failures of Paris Agreement

Successes and Failures of Paris Agreement

International efforts, such as the Paris Agreement aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But experts say countries are not doing enough to limit dangerous global warming. Countries have debated how to combat climate change since the early 1990s. These negotiations have produced several important accords, including the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. 

The findings of the first global stocktake, discussed at the 2023 UN Climate Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) concluded that governments need to do more to prevent the global average temperature from rising by 1.5°C. Over the last several decades, governments have collectively pledged to slow global warming. But despite intensified diplomacy, the world is already facing the consequences of climate change, and they are expected to get worse.

Global Climate Agreements Failures

Through the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keeps rising, heating the Earth at an alarming rate. Scientists warn that if this warming continues unabated, it could bring environmental catastrophe to much of the world, including staggering sea-level rise, record-breaking droughts and floods, and widespread species loss.

There is a broad consensus among the scientific community, though some deny that climate change is a problem, including politicians in the United States. When negotiating teams meet for international climate talks, there is less skepticism about the science and more disagreement about how to set priorities. Continued warming is expected to have harmful effects worldwide. 

Global Climate Agreements Successes 

Since negotiating the Paris accord in 2015, many of the 195 countries that are party to the agreement have strengthened their climate commitments, including through pledges on curbing emissions and supporting countries in adapting to the effects of extreme weather, during the annual UN climate conferences known as the Conference of the Parties (COP). Paris Agreement, 2015. The most significant global climate agreement to date, the Paris Agreement requires all countries to set emissions-reduction pledges. 

Governments set targets, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), with the goals of preventing the global average temperature from rising 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to keep it below 1.5°C. The Paris Agreement recognized that climate change is a shared problem and called on all countries to set emissions targets.

Progress that Countries Made Since the Paris Agreement

Every five years, countries are supposed to assess their progress toward implementing the agreement through a process known as the global stocktake. The first of these reports, released in September 2023, warned governments that 'the world is not on track to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement'. That said, countries have made some breakthroughs during the annual UN climate summits, such as the landmark commitment to establish the Loss and Damage Fund at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The fund aims to address the inequality of climate change by providing financial assistance to poorer countries, which are often least responsible for global emissions yet most vulnerable to climate disasters. At COP28, countries decided that the fund will be initially housed at the World Bank, with several wealthy countries, such as the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and EU members, initially pledging around $430 million combined. The UAE also pledged $100 million, a move some analysts say may put additional pressure on other high-emitting countries, such as China and Saudi Arabia, to increase their contributions to climate action funding.

Recently, there have been global efforts to cut methane emissions, which account for more than half of human-made warming today because of they higher potency and heat trapping ability within the first few decades of release. The United States and the EU introduced a Global Methane Pledge at COP26, which aims to slash 30% of methane emissions levels from 2020 to 2030. At COP28, oil companies announced they would cut their methane emissions from wells and drilling by more than 80% by the end of the decade, and the pledge included international monitoring efforts to hold companies accountable. The United States announced a commitment to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by nearly 80% over the next fifteen years.

Are the Commitments Made Under the Paris Agreement Enough?

Most experts say that countries’ pledges are not ambitious enough and will not be enacted quickly enough to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. The policies of Paris signatories as of late 2022 could result in a 2.7°C rise by 2100, according to the Climate Action Tracker compiled by Germany-based nonprofits Climate Analytics and the New Climate Institute. The Paris Agreement is not enough. Even at the time of negotiation, it was recognized as not being enough. It was only a first step, and the expectation was that as time went on, countries would return with greater ambition to cut their emissions.

Since 2015, dozens of countries including the top emitters have submitted stronger pledges. In 2021 the United States aimed to cut emissions by 50 - 52% compared to 2005 levels by 2030. The following year, the U.S. Congress approved legislation that could get the country close to reaching that goal. Meanwhile, the EU pledged to reduce emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030, and China said it aims to reach peak emissions before 2030. But the world’s average temperature will still rise 2.0°C by 2100 even if countries fully implement their pledges for 2030 and beyond. If the more than one hundred countries that have set or are considering net-zero targets follow through, warming could be limited to 1.8˚C, according to the Climate Action Tracker.


State-level climate policy has shown great promise in the context of federal inaction. A final way that local governments are impacting broader climate policy. Often credited for their innovative climate programming, these efforts are experiments that can be up-scaled and adopted by state governments. 

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