At the UN Climate Conference in Paris, known as COP21, 196 countries joined together in the Paris Agreement, a universal pact that sets the world on a course to a zero-carbon, resilient, prosperous and fair future. While the Agreement is not enough by itself to solve the problem, it places us clearly on the path to a truly global solution.
The Agreement marks a new type of international cooperation where developed and developing countries are united in a common framework, and all are involved, engaged contributors. It reflects the growing recognition that climate action offers tremendous opportunities and benefits, and that climate impacts can be tackled effectively, with the unity of purpose that has brought us to this moment.
What is the Ambition Mechanism?
However, to fully understand why the Paris Agreement is such an achievement, we must unpack one of its core ingredients, what has become known as the ambition mechanism or cycles of action. This mechanism lays out a process to continue strengthening action in a regular and timely way every five years, starting before 2020. The Ambition Mechanism refers to an ongoing process to increase action by all countries and can be broken down into three main components:
- Global Stocktake of implementation and collective progress every five years
- Submission of updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) from each country every five years informed by the Global Stocktake
- Expectation of progression and highest possible ambition for each successive contribution.
What will happen after 2020?
After the 2018 assessment, the next moment for all countries to come back and assess implementation and collective progress will be in 2023, referred to in the Paris Agreement as the “Global Stocktake.” This Global Stocktake will then occur every five years and serve as the pivotal collective moment to assess implementation and progress towards achieving long-term Paris Agreement goals.
The Global Stocktake has broad scope and purpose—assessing mitigation action as well as adaptation, means of implementation (including finance, technology transfer and development, and capacity building), and other support. Assessments will be based on equity and informed by the best available science, including the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. All Parties will be required to prepare and communicate new NDCs for mitigation, informed by the Global Stocktake outcomes.
The world has now embarked on a historic transformation. The regular and ongoing process to review and increase ambition across all elements of the Paris Agreement is what will ensure this is a historic, dynamic and durable outcome capable of driving the needed level of climate action.