The UN’s climate negotiations are the framework for international climate policy, and the UN’s climate action targets are crucial for how the world restricts and combats climate change. In 2015, the countries in the UN negotiated two agreements which together form the UN's climate goals: The Paris agreement, which is a global, legally binding climate agreement and replaces the Kyoto protocol, and the Sustainable Development Goals agreement which replaces the 2015 targets, several of which are to do with the climate. The agreements will dictate the UN’s climate goals for many years to come. The main goals are: to limit global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius; to secure financial support from developed countries for climate action in developing countries; and to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity for climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
The UN’s climate goals are the goals that the world’s countries agreed on following negotiations in the United Nations organisation. Since 1992, the United Nations has been home to the international negotiations on how countries should deal with climate change, and all countries continue to meet under the auspices of the United Nations to negotiate and draw up the world’s climate goals. This is why the UN climate goals are equivalent to worldwide climate goals, and this is also the reason why there is a lot of focus on how ambitious and legally binding the goals are. The aim of the climate goals is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that global warming can be halted and dangerous, man-made climate change can be prevented. In recent years, there has also been an increased focus on how climate change negatively impacts social and economic development, and a central element in negotiations on climate goals has often been how the countries of the world can ensure economic and socially sustainable development together with the climate-related aspects.
In 2015, 196 countries reached two agreements under UN auspices which today dictate the UN’s climate goals. The most crucial agreement is the Paris Agreement, which is the UN’s official climate goal. The agreement comes into force in 2020 and replaces the Kyoto Protocol, which was the world’s first legally binding international agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gases when it was agreed in 1997 and which remains in force until 2020.
Here you can see the main points of the Paris Agreement:
- The participating countries must urgently attempt to ensure a reduction in CO2 emissions. At the same time, they must take into account sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.
- The countries must attempt to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees compared to 1850 when industrialisation really took off.
- The participating countries must secure approx. DKK 681 billion annually to achieve the new climate goals.
- The participating countries must meet every five years to update the climate goals. The first meeting will take place already in 2018, even though the agreement will not come into force until 2020.
- The participating countries must achieve their maximum level of CO2 emissions as quickly as possible. That this will take longer for certain countries is taken into account. For example in the case of India, where 300 million people still do not have access to electricity.
- The developed countries must report their climate figures every two years.
- There will not be any penalties for those countries that fail to comply with their climate goals, but all countries are obliged to report how much and how they limit CO2 emissions.
- All countries must use the same global system to monitor and report their CO2 emissions.
In addition to the objectives of the Paris agreement, which will be the UN’s and thus the world’s applicable climate goals from 2020 onwards, the UN has also set itself a number of climate goals under the Global Goals For Sustainable Development, which the countries of the world agreed on following negotiations in 2015. The focus here is on ensuring that all countries – including developing countries – are resilient and able to adapt to climate change, such as extreme weather and natural disasters, and to ensure continued economic and social development in all countries around the world. You can see the UN’s 17 goals for sustainable development here: https://www.globalgoals.org/.