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World Nations Sign Climate-Change Agreement


Friday December 18, 2015

After two weeks of negotiation in Paris, 196 countries agreed Saturday to limit climate change by regulating the emissions experts say cause global warming.

“Negotiators sealed the deal after changing provisions that would have triggered a requirement that the agreement be approved by the US congress, where there are many lawmakers skeptical about the climate accord,” write Matthew Dalton and Gabriele Steinhauser for The Wall Street Journal. “They won over developing nations at the last hour by exempting them from obligations to help pay the bill for confronting climate change.” 

The Paris Agreement calls for wealthy economies, such as the United States and the European Union, to commit to directing $100 billion a year to poor nations to help them respond to climate change. Developing nations, including China and India, also must contribute by finding methods to limit their emissions growth.

“Governments hope the deal will spur a tectonic shift in global economic development, pushing countries away from burning fossil fuels and toward a host of newer technologies, including solar panels, wind-power turbines, electric cars, and more energy-efficient buildings,” Dalton and Steinhauser write.

The United Nations (UN) reports that the world has warmed 0.9 degree Celsius since the late 19th century. The signatories of the Paris Agreement have pledged to keep that warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, in fact trying for 1.5.

According to the UN, the Paris Agreement formalizes the process of developing national plans to both mitigate and prevent climate change. Nations are bound to assess and review progress on their plans while continuously upgrading their commitments. This will prevent “backtracking.”

The Wall Street Journal points out that the accord’s “weak spot” is its allowance of nations to determine their own emissions-reduction plans, which would not be subjected to dispute by other governments. This element of the agreement is what enabled the United States and many of the other participants to sign on to the Paris Agreement.

Yet, the article calls the deal a “rare win for the UN.” The UN itself says the Paris Agreement “is doable. Taking climate action now makes good economic sense. The more we delay, the more we pay. We can promote economic growth, eradicate extreme poverty, and improve people’s health and well-being by acting today.”

Impacting supply chains

Although the Paris Agreement involved 196 parties, more than 750 attendees met in Paris following the negotiations for Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015. This huge business-focused event highlights how integral business is for the future success of the Paris Agreement. Supply chain leaders, too, must begin thinking about innovating their systems and networks, if they haven’t already. Consider the following description of sustainable supply chains from the APICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge (OMBOK) Framework: “Sustainable supply chains seek clean methods of production, minimization of the environmental footprint of products and services, and combining environmentally friendly decisions with effective supply chain practices …” 

APICS offers a wide variety of resources to help you innovate your supply chain and operations management. One example is APICS magazine and its November/December issue, which is dedicated to the topic of sustainability. The current issue features articles about infusing sustainability throughout companies and supply chains, corporate social responsibility at Tiffany & Co., and more. This special issue of APICS magazine is only available to members online, through the APICSmagazine tablet app for Android and iOS tablets, or via the APICS website. For more information, visit