Unlike previous climate agreements, the Paris Agreement is completely voluntary. This means that while the agreement requires each country to submit an NDC plan, there is no provision on how and to what extent countries should reduce their emissions. Countries` plans can vary widely and vary depending on their specific targets, level of ambition and even their measurement of emission reductions. The importance of the US decision to leave the Paris Agreement should not be underestimated, especially since the US is the world`s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The country`s promised emission reductions accounted for about 20% of the overall reductions under the Paris Agreement. Yet even with the U.S. promise of 2015, the country did not appear to be on track to limit global warming to well below 2°C. At the current speed, the United States could contribute to a considerably warmer planet. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which set legally binding emission reduction targets (as well as sanctions for non-compliance) only for developed countries, the Paris Agreement requires all countries – rich, poor, developed and developing – to contribute to and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To this end, the Paris Agreement incorporates greater flexibility: there is no language about the commitments countries should make, nations can voluntarily set their emissions targets (NNCs), and countries will not be punished if they fail to meet their proposed targets. But what the Paris Agreement requires is to monitor, report and reassess countries` individual and collective goals over time, in order to bring the world closer to the broader goals of the agreement. And the agreement includes an obligation for countries to announce their next round of targets every five years, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed at this target but did not contain a specific requirement to achieve it. While the broader transparency framework is universal, as is the global inventory to be held every five years, the framework aims to provide “integrated flexibility” to distinguish between the capacities of industrialized and developing countries. . . .