The Paris Agreement marks the first time that governments have legally agreed to take measures to limit global temperature increases. It sets a main overall objective of ensuring that global temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Further objectives include:

  • Achieving zero net emissions by the second half of the Century
  • Ensuring that each party to the Agreement communicates national climate action plans setting out their objectives to address climate change
  • Parties to the Agreement must strengthen their co-operation on adaptation
  • Developed countries are required to provide financial support to developing country parties, for mitigation and adaptation

The Paris Agreement is an important statement of intent, with specific references to climate change adaptation and resilience. However, the real question for businesses is how these ambitions will be met.

It might be the case that there are few practical changes in the short-term but as the pressure mounts to achieve these targets we can expect some tough measures emerging in the medium term. There are likely to be few easy wins and so all businesses should monitor develops and anticipate some impact on business-as-usual operations.

The entry into force of the Paris Agreement coincides with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP22), which is taking place in Morocco between 7 and 18 November. Governments will meet to discuss the Agreement and how the objectives will be met. The UN Conference is likely to give further indication of the changes that will be required to implement the aims of the Paris Agreement.

The detail may be limited to date, but the direction of travel is clear, and businesses should be prepared for changes. There are also opportunities for those involved in the green economy. Burges Salmon’s environmental law specialists will continue to assess the developments relating to the Paris Agreement and the changes it will bring.