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On 12 December 2015, a historic agreement among 195 nations was made in Paris, France to “combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future.”

The agreement was the final product of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The following are 5 key points you need to know about the COP21 Agreement:

1. Limiting temperature increases below 2° C

The main aim is to keep global temperature rise in this century well below 2° Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

2. Cross-cutting areas 

The agreement covers these crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion: 

  • Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal; 
  • A transparency and global stock-take system – accounting for climate action;
  • Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts;
  • Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts;
  • Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.

3. Nationally determined contributions (NDCs)

Countries will continue to submit national climate action plans – called NDCs – every five years.  Each NDC will detail the countries’ future objectives to address climate change and how they will peak their emissions as soon as possible.  Future NDCs will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means that the existing 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition.

4. Support to developing nations

Existing efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate-resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.  Governments will work to define a clear roadmap on increasing climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020 while also setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the USD 100 billion floor before 2025.

5. Entering into force

Following the agreement’s adoption, it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for the governments’ signature for one year starting 22 April 2016, which is Mother Earth Day.  The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.


Read more about the COP21 agreement from the UNFCCC here >>

Read the full text of the COP21 agreement here >>