Background Implementing the Paris Agreement

Climate change can only be kept within manageable limits if we systematically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Any delay in taking action to protect the climate will make future action more difficult and drive up costs, warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (External link) (IPCC).

The then French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius - President of the COP21 climate conference - bangs down the gavel after representatives of 196 countries adopted a far-reaching climate agreement during the UN Climate Change Conference at Le Bourget airport in Paris, France, 12 December 2015.

The then French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius - President of the COP21 climate conference - bangs down the gavel after representatives of 196 countries adopted a far-reaching climate agreement during the UN Climate Change Conference at Le Bourget airport in Paris, France, 12 December 2015.

The then French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius - President of the COP21 climate conference - bangs down the gavel after representatives of 196 countries adopted a far-reaching climate agreement during the UN Climate Change Conference at Le Bourget airport in Paris, France, 12 December 2015.

The adoption of the Paris Agreement (External link) was the first time that nearly all countries in the world made a commitment to limit climate change. They want to limit the human-made rise in global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius, and preferably 1.5 degrees, above pre-industrial levels and adapt to the consequences of climate change.

In order to make that happen, all parties to the Agreement have to define their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In their NDCs, countries describe how they plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Over time, the NDCs are to become more ambitious, taking the international community closer towards reaching the Paris Agreement targets. The parties to the Agreement therefore made a commitment that, from 2020, they would present new and improved NDCs every five years. 

The industrialised countries have the necessary knowledge and financial means in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Germany and the European Union are setting a good example: with the European Green Deal (External link), the EU's new strategy for sustainable growth, Europe is to be transformed into the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. In December 2020, the EU and its member states also submitted plans for a more ambitious NDC (External link).