With the landmark Paris agreement now ratified, the conference delivered what former U.S. Vice President Al Gore called a “bold vision that sets the pace for the world’s efforts to implement the deal.”
This reflects the fact that a highlight of the conference were the presentations by individual countries of their plans to achieve agreed national greenhouse gas cuts targets. This is a key step and reflects the fact that Paris is a flexible, “bottom-up” approach whereby nations develop bespoke plans to realize emissions targets with national and sub-national governments working in partnership with business.
In other words, while Paris created a global architecture for tackling global warming, it recognizes that diverse, often decentralized, policies will be required by different types of economies to meet climate commitments.
While the wisdom of this appears obvious, it represents a breakthrough from the more rigid “top-down” Kyoto Protocol framework. While Kyoto worked in 1997 for the 37 developed countries and the EU states who agreed it, a different way of working is needed for the more complex Paris deal that involves more than 170 diverse developing and developed states that agreed to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
That this approach makes sense is reflected in the diversity of climate measures that countries, pre-Paris, had started to make in response to global warming. This was illustrated in a 2015 report by the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics that focused on 98 countries plus the EU, together accounting for 93 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and revealed there are more than 800 climate change laws and policies in place across the world, rising from 54 in 1997.
Approximately half of these (398) were legislative measures, and half (408) executive actions (e.g. decrees). And 46 new laws and policies were passed in the 12 months prior alone—highlighting that domestic measures to address global warming are being approved at an increasing rate.
Related: How climate change advocates plan to fight the next four years under Trump
Some 45 countries, including the 28 EU members as a bloc, have economy wide targets to reduce their emissions. Together, they account for over 75 percent of global emissions.
In addition, 41 states have economy-wide targets up to 2020, and 22 have targets beyond 2020. Moreover, 86 countries have specific targets for renewable energy, energy demand, transportation or land-use, land-use change and forestry, while 80 percent of countries have renewable targets; the majority are executive policies.