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Climate Change: countdown to the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement

Environmental law and Climate changes

​Climate Change: countdown to the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement​

  • On September 21, 2016, Brazil delivered to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, a document in which it ratified the Paris Agreement ("Agreement") on climate change, which included the goals to be achieved by Brazil to limit the world's temperature. ​

  • The U.S. and China, the world's two largest emitters, joined the Agreement last September 3rd. 

  • The Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day as from the date in which at least 55 Parties to the Convention1 accounting for at least 55% (fifty five percent) of the estimate global greenhouse gas emissions, submit their ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the U.N. Secretary General.

  • As of September 22, 2016, sixty Parties representing 47.76%  of the total global emissions joined the Agreement. The expectation is that the Agreement will enter into force in the coming months. 

  • The Agreement was adopted in December, 2015 at a COP212 meeting. The main goal of the Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise, in this century, below 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. 

  • To reach these ambitious goals, developed countries will put in place appropriate financial resources and a new technology framework to support developing countries and the most vulnerable countries to achieve their own national goals.

  • Differently from the Kyoto Protocol, the Agreement requires all Parties, including developing countries, to put forward their best efforts through "Nationally Determined Contributions" ("NDCs")3 and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities of each country. 

  • Every 5 years, a global stocktake will take place to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to share individual actions undertaken by the countries.

  • One hundred eighty six countries have submitted their NDCs, indicating policies, measures and actions to implement emission reduction targets. 

  • The Brazilian NDC includes goals, such as:

  1. ​​Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37% (thirty seven percent) below 2005 levels by 2025;

  2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% (forty three percent) below 2005 levels by 2030;

  3. Increase the share of sustainable biofuels in the Brazilian energy mix to approximately 18% (eighteen percent) by 2030;

  4. Achieve 45% (forty five percent) of renewables in the energy mix by 2030;

  5. Achieve zero illegal deforestation by 2030;

  6. Restore and reforest twelve million hectares of forests by 2030.

  • Notwithstanding the Agreement, to invest in clean technologies and production is a business opportunity for economic growth in Brazil. 

    • According to a study called Economic and Social Implications: Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Scenarios (IES-Brazil) the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could generate more than R$ 609 billion in gross domestic product between 2015 and 2030. Opportunities in "green" economy and environmental assets market require public investments and policies as well as businesses with a systemic and integrated management;​ 

    • Brazil has 12% (twelve percent) of the native vegetation area in the world. Its forests are an environmental asset that generate benefits, such as carbon, biodiversity, water and landscape resources that have not being yet economically valued. Some Brazilian companies have invested in maintenance and sustainable management of forests, while other companies have purchased carbon credits from reforestation projects of degraded areas, which in addition to the environmental benefits mentioned above, ensure socio-economic benefits to local communities involved as family farmers, indigenous and ​traditional communities.​

    • Finally, actions promoting the use of biofuels and investments to improve public transportation infrastructure in urban areas, low carbon emission agriculture, solar and wind energy, use of charcoal in the steel industry, were identified as alternatives to advance the Brazilian economy by the study called Economic and Social Implications: Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Scenarios (IES-Brazil).​


1The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC entered into force on March 21, 1994. One hundred and ninety seven countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention. In accordance with article 2 of the Convention, "the ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner."

2COP21 was the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. It was organized by the United Nations and held from November 30 to December 12, 2015 in Paris-Le Bourget and it was presided by France.

3Pursuant to article 4, paragraph 2 of the Agreement, each Party shall prepare, communicate and maintain successive Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which should include goals it intends to achieve.

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