2015 Paris Agreement - About, Achievements, and Accounting

February 13, 2018
Denise Mullen

The 2015 Paris accord is the latest installment of multilateral agreements aimed at addressing the rising concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the earth’s atmosphere. Paris flows from the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


  • Almost 90% of the 197 countries involved in the talks have now ratified the UNFCCC Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • The ambitious Paris objective is to limit global temperature rise to 2-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, and to work towards a 1.5 degree Celsius upper bound — a big challenge given forecast global population growth and concurrent energy needs.
  • The production-based bias of the global greenhouse gas accounting system is past due for a review. It almost completely ignores the relationship between the production and consumption of goods and services, even though one cannot exist without the other.
  • To date, neither Canada nor BC include modifications in land use, land-use change and forestry due to natural disasters, when accounting for progress towards overall GHG emissions reductions; this is a significant mistake given the potential to use land as a carbon sink.
  • The accounting system does not but should incorporate double-entry book keeping for international and interstate trade in certificates that claim to represent real reductions in GHG inventories.
  • Despite these accounting handcuffs, Canada and BC have made improvements in carbon intensity over time. BC surpassed the global average rate of GHG reduction while also having the fastest growing economy in Canada since 2012.
  • Going forward, and absent a hard look at how we account for GHGs, the Canadian and BC economies may shrink under the pressure of mounting climate change and energy regulation. The result: increased imports of more GHG intensive products while Canada ends up ceding market share for our lower-carbon manufactured, energy and other natural resource goods.

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