Cornerstone - Spring 2016 - (Page 18)
E N E RG Y P O L I C Y
The Paris Agreement
and 21st Century Coal
By Milagros Miranda R.
Policy Director, World Coal Association
hen Laurent Fabius, then France's Foreign Minister,
gaveled through the Paris Agreement on the evening of Saturday, 12 December, he signaled the end
of four complex years of negotiations on climate change, and
also the beginning of many more.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met for its 21st session
in Paris, from 30 November to 13 December. Even during the
second week of negotiations, there was not much progress on
the main issues at stake, in particular, differentiation between
rich and poor countries, the long-term temperature or emissions
reduction goals for mitigation purposes, and climate finance. In
fact, those issues were possible deal breakers and remained
contentious until the end of the negotiations. The trade-offs
made on those key issues finally allowed for an outcome more
than 24 hours after the conference was due to close.
MAIN ISSUES IN THE AGREEMENT
The Paris Agreement marks the conclusion of the work of the
Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced
Action (ADP), which had a mandate "to develop a protocol,
another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal
force under the Convention, applicable to all Parties".A The
Paris Agreement is expected to enter into force in 2020.
UNFCCC leaders celebrate after the historic adoption of the
Paris Agreement on climate change. Credit: Mark Garten/UN
The new agreement contains legal obligations for countries,
particularly related to the review mechanism for scaling up
ambition of the nationally determined contributions (now
termed "NDCs" and previously known as Intended Nationally
Determined Contributions or "INDCs"). It also encompasses
flexibilities for its implementation by developing countries in
the application of the principle of common, but differentiated
responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC).
"The Paris Agreement aims to
be a turning point in the world's
response to climate change."
The main elements in the Paris Agreement are summarized
Preamble and "Principle of Common
and Respective Capabilities"
The preamble of the agreement states that, in pursuit of the
objectives of the convention, parties are guided by its principles, including the principle of equity and CBDR-RC, in the light
of different national circumstances. This implies that all principles of the UNFCCC apply throughout the Paris Agreement
and signifies that a differentiation exists between developing
and developed countries. It is also clear that this differentiation should guide the implementation of the agreement, as
the principle is explicitly referred to in its purpose section.
It is important to note that the Paris Agreement does not
continue the UNFCCC classification of countries.B Rather, it
differentiates between developed and developing countries in
different sections of the text and includes references to special
circumstances of least developed countries and small island
developing states, but its commitments apply to all parties.
Whether this leaves room to reflect further categorization
of countries as per their upcoming levels of development
remains to be seen.
Purpose. The Paris Agreement is more ambitious than most
observers expected. It aims to keep global warming well
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cornerstone - Spring 2016
From the Editor: Valuing Technology Transfer
to Support the Paris Agreement
CoverStory: Fueling Increased Electricity Production in the Emerging Economies of Asia
Recognizing the U.S. Cooperative Difference
Calling All Technology Developers: XPRIZE’s US$20-Million Competition for Breakthroughs in CO2 Conversion
The Paris Agreement and 21st Century Coal
A Utility Overview of the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan
The Importance of System Utilization and Dispatchable Low-Emissions Electricity for Deep Decarbonization
Coal’s Role in ASEAN Energy
What’s Driving India’s Coal Demand Growth
Polygeneration as a Means to Reduce Energy Poverty in Pakistan
The Future of Gasification
Application of Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion With Low-Rank Asian Coals
Oceanic Storage of CO2 by Japan and Taiwan
Cornerstone - Spring 2016