A detailed look at the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement is a the first legally binding climate deal, which 195 countries adopted at the Paris Climate conference in December 2015. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C over the next 100 years.
The agreement sends a clear signal to all stakeholders, investors, businesses, civil society and policy-makers that the global transition to clean energy is here to stay and resources have to shift away from fossil fuels.
The key elements of the agreement are mitigation, transparency, adaptation, loss and damage, the role of cities, region and local authorities, and support.
Mitigation: reducing emissions
The governments agreed to keep global warming below 2 °C over the course of this century and ideally lower than 1.5 °C. Global warming of more than 2 °C would have serious consequences, such as an increase in the number of extreme climate events, according to the IPCC.
They also agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible but recognised this would take longer for developing countries. Each government would undertake rapid reductions in emissions in accordance with the best available science.
Transparency and global stocktake
An agreement was made for governments to come together every five years to set more ambitious targets as required by the latest research; report to each other and the public on the implementation of those targets; and track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust accountability system.
While strictly speaking, parties are not legally bound to achieve their targets, each party is legally bound to pursue domestic mitigation measures, with the aim of achieving the objectives of their contributions. This, combined with robust transparency and accountability provisions, provides a solid basis for an inclusive regime.
There’s the need to adapt to the current effects global warming is having on the planet. The governments agreed to strengthen societies’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change; and provide continued support for adaptation in developing countries.
Loss and damage
The agreement also recognises the importance of minimising and addressing the loss and damage associated with climate change. This means governments have pledged to cooperate and enhance their understanding, action and support in different areas with early warning systems, emergency preparedness, risk insurance and more.
Role of cities, regions and local authorities
Cities, regions and local authorities are invited to scale up their efforts to support action and reduce emissions; build resilience against the adverse effects of climate change; and promote regional and international cooperation.
EU members and other developed countries will continue to support climate action to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries.
All other countries are encouraged to provide, or continue to provide, similar support on a voluntary basis.
The next steps for all the countries who have signed the agreement is to plan for the future with cutting carbon emissions in mind. In the UK, Greenpeace’s chief scientist Doug Parr said: “A mix of renewables, battery storage and efficiency measures is the way to go. If Theresa May wants to have an industrial strategy that can cut emissions, create jobs, and help keep down bills, she should put low-carbon infrastructure at its heart.”
In December 2018, UN delegates will reconvene to write the formal rules for the agreement. Countries that have signed up to the agreement will need to submit plans for reducing emissions and reaching the guidelines set in 2015, although many have already done this, ratifying the agreement.
One barrier that could affect the Paris Agreement is Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential election. He’s already made it quite clear he is sceptical about global warming but during his campaign he also said he’d withdraw from the Paris agreement. This could have a knock-on effect as other large countries such as China could follow that lead.
There’s no doubt the Paris Agreement is a clear step forward in combatting climate change and now that it’s been ratified by enough countries - representing more than 55% of global carbon emissions – the initial effects on policy should be seen soon.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.