Tackling climate change is a problem that needs to be addressed internationally. Starting with the Kyoto Protocol, the first binding agreement to address climate change, developed and developing countries are working together to achieve targets to mitigate climate change. The primary focus is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially CO2, but have expanded to include adapting to the changes as well. This institutional framework focuses on the bigger picture of preserving the environment that we all live in.
By 1995, countries launched negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is the world’s first emission reduction treaty and legally binds developed country Parties to emission reduction targets. The text was adopted unanimously in 1997, and entered into force in 2005. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. There is an overall five percent target for greenhouse gas emissions; however, commitments under the Protocol vary from nation to nation. The agreement offers flexibility as to how countries may meet their targets, whether it is by increasing forests that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or by funding projects that result in greenhouse gas cuts. United States, the greatest emitter at the time, did not ratify the Protocol and limited the effectiveness of it. There was a total drop in emission by 22.6% within the countries that ratified the Protocol.
The 2015 Paris Agreement was adopted on 12 December 2015. It was ratified on 5 October 2016 and went into force on 4 November 2016.
The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century significantly below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework.
Sustainable Development Goals
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda is composed of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which are supported by 169 targets. Sustainable transport has been included in 8 of the 17 goals.