Paris Agreement on climate change

Council of the EU

The Paris Agreement is a global agreement on climate change which was reached on 12 December 2015 in Paris. The agreement presents an action plan to limit global warming 'well below' 2°C. It covers the period from 2020 onwards. 

  • The main elements of the new Paris Agreement:
  • long-term goal: governments agreed to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C
  • contributions: before and during the Paris conference countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans to reduce their emissions
  • ambition: governments agreed to communicate every 5 years their contributions to set more ambitious targets
  • transparency: they also accepted to report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets, to ensure transparency and oversight
  • solidarity: the EU and other developed countries will continue to provide climate finance to assist developing countries both to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts

Climate change is an important global issue affecting everyone. This timeline follows the process of reaching a new global legally binding agreement on climate - the Paris Agreement and its follow-up. It also covers the role of the EU in this process.


22 June

European Council conclusions on the Paris Agreement

''The Agreement remains a corner stone for global efforts to effectively tackle climate change, and cannot be renegotiated,'' said the EU leaders.

The heads of state or government reaffirmed the EU's commitment to swift and full implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, including its climate finance goals, and to lead the global transition to clean energy. They stressed EU's enhanced cooperation with international partners, demonstrating solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet.

19 June

'Paris Agreement is fit for purpose and cannot be renegotiated'

The Council adopted conclusions on climate change following the United States Administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In the conclusions, the Council regrets the decision of the United States Administration to withdraw from Paris Agreement and welcomes strong commitments of other countries.

Works in the imprementation of the committments agreed under the Paris Agreement have to continue including help to developing countries to achieve their goal to mobilise 100 billion USD per year by 2020 for climate action.

6 March

Conclusions on EU climate and energy diplomacy

The Council adopted conclusions on EU climate and energy diplomacy as part of the implementation of the EU Global Strategy. EU climate diplomacy focuses on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and climate security. EU energy diplomacy focuses on energy security and diversification.

The conclusions establish a number of actions, and set overall priorities for 2017.  


4 November

Paris Agreement entered into force

On 4 November 2016 the Paris Agreement entered into force. This took place 30 days after the conditions were met on 4 October - ratification by at least 55 countries  accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

25 October

EU to scale up its international climate finance contribution

EU will scale up its international climate finance contribution towards the $100 billion per year goal set for industrialised countries by 2020 and through until 2025. Before 2025, the parties to the UN framework convention on climate change will set a new collective goal.

Total contributions from the EU and its member states amounted to €17.6 billion in 2015, a significant increase compared to 2014. The contributions were successfully channelled into climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries.

The contribution is seen as an important step towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

11 October

Council conclusions on climate finance

The Economic and Financial Affairs Council adopted Council conclusions on climate finance. The Council emphasized that public finance remains important for fighting climate change. The ministers also confirmed that the amounts of public climate finance will be be scaled-up in the coming years. Contributions of the member states will be announced before the meeting of COP22.

7 October

Deposition of instruments of the Paris Agreement

EU celebrates the deposition of instruments of the Paris Agreement at an official ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York.

5 October

EU officially ratified the Paris Agreement

Representatives of the Council presidency and the European Commission deposited the official documents for ratification with the UN's Secretary-General, who is the depositary of the agreement.

4 October

Decision on the EU ratification of the Paris Agreement

Council adopted the decision on the EU ratification of the Paris Agreement. The decision will be deposited within the next few days with the Secretary-General of the UN. EU ratification comes into effect from the moment of deposit of the decision.

30 September

The Environment Council agreed on ratification of the Paris Agreement

The Environment Council decided to go ahead with ratification at EU level. Member states will ratify either together with the EU if they have completed their national procedures, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Once the European Parliament gives its green light, the decision on conclusion will be formally adopted by the Council. The EU will then be able to ratify the agreement.

20 June

Statement on the ratification of the Paris Agreement

The Environment Council adopted a statement on the ratification of the Paris Agreement. It focused on giving a strong and clear political message on the EU's commitment to maintain the Paris momentum and work towards early entry into force and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

22 April

Signing of the Paris agreement

The EU signs the Paris Agreement.

Dutch Minister for the Environment and President of the Council Sharon Dijksma and Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič sign the agreement on behalf of the EU in a high-level ceremony in New York (United States).

From this moment on the document is open for signature for one year.

4 March

Environment Council follow-up to the Paris Agreement

At the Environment Council, ministers discussed the follow-up to the Paris Agreement on climate change and its implications for EU climate policy.

A timely implementation of the EU 2030 climate and energy framework was seen as an important sign of the EU's commitment to the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Ministers also emphasized the relevance of swift ratification of the agreement.

15 February

Climate diplomacy action plan for 2016

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted conclusions on European climate diplomacy after COP21. The Council emphasized the role of European climate diplomacy in encouraging implementation of the global Paris Agreement on climate change reached in December 2015. 

The climate diplomacy action plan for 2016 focuses on three main areas:

  • climate change advocacy as a strategic priority in diplomatic dialogues, public diplomacy and external policy instruments
  • implementation of the Paris Agreement and the intended nationally determined contributions in the context of low-emission and climate-resilient development
  • addressing the link between climate change, natural resources, prosperity, stability and migration


17-18 December

European Council conclusions on Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy

EU leaders welcomed the historic climate deal that was agreed at the COP21 in Paris, and invited the Commission and the Council to assess the results by March 2016, in particular in view of the 2030 climate and energy framework, and to prepare the next steps.

12 December

The Paris Agreement reached

On 12 December, a new global agreement on climate change was reached. The agreement represents a balanced outcome with an action plan to limit global warming to 'well below' 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

The Paris Agreement will be open for signature for one year from 22 April 2016 in New York.

It covers the period from 2020 onward and will enter into force once 55 countries that are responsible for at least 55% of global emissions have ratified it.

30 November - 11 December

Paris Climate change conference COP 21

The Paris climate conference took place from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11). Delegations from around 150 countries joined negotiations for a new, global and legally binding climate change agreement.

10 November

Council conclusions on climate finance

Meeting on 10 November 2015, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council adopted conclusions on climate finance. The conclusions recognised the role of climate finance as a means of reaching the pathway to keep global warming below 2°C, and of achieving the transformation to climate resilient, low greenhouse gas emission, sustainable economies. They also focused on the EU's climate finance contributions towards the $100 billion per year from a wide variety of sources pledged by developed countries by 2020. The ministers agreed that significant resources would be needed to help developing countries deal adequately with climate change.

18 September

EU's position for the UN climate change conference in Paris

The Environment Council adopted conclusions establishing the EU's position for the UN climate change conference in Paris. The ministers agreed that the EU would aim to reach an ambitious legally-binding and dynamic agreement, with the objective of keeping global warming below 2°C.

To achieve this objective, the Council stressed that global greenhouse gas emissions needed to peak by 2020 at the latest, be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 and be near or below zero by 2100.

6 March

EU's intended nationally determined contribution

Ahead of the Paris conference on climate change, the EU submitted its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The EU's INDC expresses the commitment of the EU to the negotiating process towards a new, legally binding agreement on climate change with the objective of keeping global warming below 2°C. It also confirmed the binding target of a reduction of at least 40% in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, as stated in the European Council conclusions from October 2014.


23 October

Climate and energy policy framework for 2030

EU leaders agreed on the climate and energy policy framework for 2030. The European Council endorsed 4 targets:

  • a binding EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 1990
  • a target of at least 27% for the share of renewable energy consumed in 2030
  • a 27% improvement in energy efficiency in comparison with projections 
  • the completion of the internal energy market by achieving  a minimum target of 10% of existing electricity interconnections by 2020, at least in respect for energy islands - in particular, the Baltic states and the Iberian Peninsula