The Paris Agreement: highlights of a historical agreement

Nicola Tollin


The twenty-first session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21) was convened in
Le Bourget Paris in the frame of the Paris Climate Change Conference, hosting the largest
number of participants ever seen, including 20.000 government/parties representatives,
8.000 IGOs/NGOs observers, and 3.000 media.
During the first days of the negotiations, for the first time in history, 150 heads of state meet
together under the same roof to give the clear and unequivocal signal that climate change
is a real and unprecedented challenge for humanity, which requires an unprecedented and
urgent global action, based on the collaboration and contribution of all countries.
On the 12 December 2016, after two weeks of intense negotiations, one day after the
expected end-date, the Decision FCCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1, including the annex with the
Paris Agreement, has been approved by the 196 Parties by consensus.
The approved document includes the Decision of 20 pages, and the Paris Agreement of
12 pages, this in order to facilitate approval of the agreement by governments without
requiring the ratification by national parliaments, which would have been practical
impossible in some countries i.e. United States of America.
The Paris Agreement is a universal and legally binding agreement, providing a solid
architecture and ambitious targets, coordinating and mainstreaming action to face
climate change challenge globally. The Decision, which is non-legally binding, contains
fundamental provisions and a clear work plan/timeline to put flash on bones on the Paris
Agreement itself, particularly enhancing action prior to 2020.


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