China claims victory – and significant leadership – in the global climate change agreement. In particular, Xie Zhenhua, China`s chief negotiator, openly spoke out in favor of the need to uphold the principle of « common but differentiated responsibilities » enshrined in the Paris Agreement and insisted that industrialized countries meet their previous commitments to provide money and technology to help developing countries fight climate change. On Saturday, 195 countries adopted a landmark agreement that requires the world to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius — with a more ambitious target of 1.5°C. UN President Ban Ki-moon hailed the « truly universal agreement on climate change » as a « historic moment, » a language that summed up around the world. The Paris Agreement has a « bottom-up » structure, unlike most international environmental treaties, which are « top-down » and are characterized by internationally defined norms and goals that states must implement.  Unlike its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, which sets commitment targets that have the force of res judicata, the Paris Agreement, focused on consensus-building, allows for voluntary and national targets.  Specific climate objectives are therefore more politically encouraged than legally linked. Only the processes governing reporting and verification of these objectives are prescribed by international law. This structure is particularly notable for the United States – in the absence of legal targets for reduction or funding, the agreement is considered an « executive agreement and not a treaty ».
Since the 1992 UNFCCC treaty has received Senate approval, this new agreement does not require further laws of Congress for it to enter into force.  At the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference, the Durban Platform (and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) was created with the aim of negotiating a legal instrument for action on climate change from 2020. The resulting agreement is expected to be adopted in 2015.  The Paris Agreement is the world`s first comprehensive climate agreement.  But spokesman Asad Rehman added: « The Paris Agreement is a step in the right direction, but the reality is that it is too weak and delays measures to the next decade. » We believe that the collective ambition of what has been put on the table, especially from the major emitters (EU, China, US), is not enough to help us stay below 2C, » Li said. It is now up to the political process up to Paris to ensure that we have a solid agreement by the end of the year in order to further improve the measures. » COP21: What does the Paris Climate Agreement mean to me? The emission reduction plans, already submitted to the UN by 186 national governments, will only take the world halfway to limiting global warming to 2Cs – which is why the Paris Agreement calls for improved commitments every five years. . . .