Paris Agreement: United States, China Move to Become Parties to Climate Change Treaty [September 12, 2016] [open pdf - 276KB]
"On September 3, 2016, the United States and China consented to be bound by the international Paris Agreement (PA) to address greenhouse-gas-induced climate change. The PA was negotiated under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which the United States ratified in 1992 with the advice and consent of the Senate. The UNFCCC set an objective of 'stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system'--implicitly requiring that human-related net emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) ultimately decline to near zero. The UNFCCC outlined general obligations for all Parties plus specific obligations of the then-wealthiest countries, regarding national policies and measures to mitigate GHG emissions, assistance to developing countries, reporting, and reviews. [...] In the PA, 195 nations plus the EU adopted a structure for Parties to pledge measures every five years to abate their GHG emissions, adapt to climate change, and cooperate to these ends, including mobilization of financial and other resources. A single framework to promote transparency and track progress of Parties' efforts applies, for the first time, to all Parties--whether wealthy or not--in line with their capacities. The PA is intended to be legally binding on Parties, though not all provisions within it are mandatory or, arguably, enforceable."
CRS Insight, IN10568
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html