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195 Countries Sign Paris Climate Agreement
Dec 16, 2015

After 20 years of meetings, including the past two weeks spent in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of Paris, negotiators from 195 countries signed on to a legal agreement on 12 December that set ambitious goals to limit temperature rises and to hold governments to account for reaching those targets.

Key Features

  • Countries have signalled an end to the fossil fuel era, committing for the first time to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.

  • Countries have agreed to limit warming to 1.50C above pre-industrial levels: something that would have seemed unthinkable just a few months ago.

  • Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible.

  • They pledged to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.

  • The agreement, which set a new goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century, sent a powerful signal to global markets, hastening the transition away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy.

  • The agreement was equally a victory for the United Nations, which spent four years overcoming political inertia and the deep divisions between rich and poor countries, to put together the ambitious deal.

  • This universal and ambitious agreement sends a clear signal to governments, businesses, and investors everywhere: the transformation of global economy from one fuelled by dirty energy to one fuelled by sustainable economic growth is now firmly and inevitably underway.

  • Rich countries agreed to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries transform their economies. 

  • Six years after the ending of the Copenhagen climate summit, the agreement now known as the Paris Agreement for the first time commits rich countries, rising economies and some of the poorest countries to work together to curb emissions.

  • The overall agreement is legally binding, but some elements—including the pledges to curb emissions by individual countries and the climate finance elements—are not.

Before the conference started, 187 countries had submitted pledges to cut or curb their carbon emissions (Intended Nationally Defined Contributions-INDCs). The INDCs are recognised under the agreement, but are not legally binding. These countries put forward their plans for how to cut and curb their emissions beyond 2020, as far out as 2030.


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