People group holding raised hands in celebration


The Paris Agreement

Climate change is a global emergency that goes beyond national borders. It is an issue that requires international cooperation and coordinated solutions at all levels.

To tackle climate change and its negative impacts, world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris reached a breakthrough on 12 December 2015: the historic Paris Agreement.

The Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations:

  • substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees;
  • review countries’ commitments every five years;
  • provide financing to developing countries to mitigate climate change, strengthen resilience and enhance abilities to adapt to climate impacts.

The Agreement is a legally binding international treaty. It entered into force on 4 November 2016. Today, 193 Parties (192 countries plus the European Union) have joined the Paris Agreement.

The Agreement includes commitments from all countries to reduce their emissions and work together to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and calls on countries to strengthen their commitments over time. The Agreement provides a pathway for developed nations to assist developing nations in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts while creating a framework for the transparent monitoring and reporting of countries’ climate goals.

The Paris Agreement provides a durable framework guiding the global effort for decades to come. It marks the beginning of a shift towards a net-zero emissions world. Implementation of the Agreement is also essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.


How does it work?


The Paris Agreement works on a five- year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries. Every five years, each country is expected to submit an updated national climate action plan - known as Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC.

In their NDCs, countries communicate actions they will take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. Countries also communicate in the NDCs actions they will take to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of rising temperatures.

To better frame the efforts towards the long-term goal, the Paris Agreement invites countries to formulate and submit long-term strategies. Unlike NDCs, they are not mandatory.

The operational details for the practical implementation of the Paris Agreement were agreed on at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, in what is colloquially called the Paris Rulebook, and finalized at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021.


See which countries have submitted an updated national climate action plan (NDC) in 2020/21.

More information on the Paris Agreement can be found here.


Key elements of the Paris Agreement

Key elements of the
Paris Agreement

  • To keep global temperatures well below 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times while pursuing means to limit the increase to 1.5C.
  • To review countries’ contribution to cutting emissions every five years
  • To help poorer nations by providing climate finance to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy

Aidan Gallagher: The Paris Agreement Works

What is the 'Paris Agreement', and how does it work?