The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change

At the global climate change conference in Paris in December 2015, 195 countries agreed on a general, legally binding and global climate action agreement.

The agreement consists of a global action plan that aims to limit global warming to well below 2° C in order to counteract man-made climate change.

The Paris Agreement builds a bridge between the climate policy strategies of governments around the world that already exist today and the global climate neutrality to be achieved by the middle of this century. It is necessary to achieve the goal of living and operating in a climate neutral manner by 2050 to be able to achieve the 2° C target.

The Paris Climate Targets In Detail

Specifically, the governments agreed in Paris on the following goals and measures:

  • the goal to limit the rise in global average temperature to well below 2° C compared to pre-industrial values;
  • the additional goal of ideally limiting the increase to 1.5° C, as this would significantly reduce the risks and consequences of climate change;
  • efforts to ensure that global emissions peak in a timely manner, with more time being given to developing countries; and
  • rapid emissions reductions based on the best available scientific evidence.

In order to be able to achieve these goals, all signatory countries must present comprehensive national climate protection plans.

The governments will also

  • jointly set stricter goals every 5 years if this proves to be necessary based on scientific knowledge;
  • report on progress made towards their objectives; and
  • monitor progress towards target achievement through a robust transparency and accountability system.

Find the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change here.

Will the Paris Emission Reduction Targets Prevent Global Warming?

In Paris, the world's governments pledged to keep global temperatures below 2° C. In the latest update of the IPCC from 2018 - the SR1.5 report - however, the scientists emphasize that 2° C are not a safe level. We already have a global warming of around 1.2 today° C.

Instead, in their report, the scientists emphasize the importance of keeping the warming below 1.5° C. This should give us the best possible chance to avoid reaching so-called climatic tipping points and triggering irreversible chain reactions that are beyond human control.

In chapter 2 of the SR1.5 report it is stated that we still have 420 Gt CO2 to emit worldwide in order to have a 66% chance of staying below the 1.5 ° C target. We generate around 42 Gt each year COincluding land uses such as forestry and agriculture. So today we have less than 300 Gt  COthat may still be emitted.

In 2018 this corresponded to less than 7.5 years of today's "business as usual" emissions until this budget is completely used up. This is the carbon budget that gives us the best chance of meeting the 1.5° C target.

It couldn't be more obvious: time is pressing! We must implement the goals of Paris now and implement profound changes in the way we live on our planet.