Currently, 197 countries – every nation on earth, the last signatory being war-torn Syria – have adopted the Paris Agreement. Of these, 179 have solidified their climate proposals with formal approval – including the US for now. The only major emitting countries that have not yet officially joined the deal are Russia, Turkey and Iran. NDCs become NDCs – Nationally Determined Contributions – once a country formally joins the agreement. There are no specific requirements on how countries should reduce their emissions or to what extent, but there have been political expectations about the nature and severity of individual countries` targets. As a result, national plans vary considerably in scope and ambition, largely reflecting each country`s capacities, level of development and contribution to emissions over time. China, for example, has pledged to level its CO2 emissions by 2030 at the latest and reduce CO2 emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 60 to 65 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. India has set a target of reducing emissions intensity by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030 and producing 40% of its electricity from non-fossil sources. The United States was instrumental in developing and negotiating the Paris Agreement and signed it in 2015. As one of its signatories, the United States has committed to reducing emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025 compared to 1990 levels.

However, in 2017, the federal government announced its intention to withdraw from the agreement after a new administration took office, and on November 4, 2020, the United States was the only country to withdraw. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main international scientific panel working on this issue, the concentration of these heat-trapping gases has increased significantly since pre-industrial times and has reached levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. Carbon dioxide (the main cause of climate change) has increased by 40%, nitrous oxide by 20% and methane by 150% since 1750 – mainly from the combustion of dirty fossil fuels. The IPCC says it is “extremely likely” that these emissions are mainly responsible for the rise in global temperatures since the 1950s. At the same time, deforestation and forest degradation have also contributed to their fair share of global carbon emissions. The initial commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been extended until 2012 […].