The Paris Agreement

At the 2015 Paris climate conference, a new agreement was adopted for the post-2020 period. For the first time, it committed all states to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and largely eliminated the previous distinction between industrialised and developing countries.

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding instrument under the Climate Change Convention. It entered into force on 5 October 2016 after being ratified by the 55 countries responsible for 55% of global emissions.

Switzerland ratified the Paris Agreement on 6 October 2017, thereby committing to halve its emissions from 1990 levels by 2030, in part through emissions reductions abroad. Switzerland has also announced it will reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It is implementing its international commitments primarily through the CO2 Act.

The Paris Agreement contains elements aimed at gradually reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, and is the first to be based on common principles for all states.

Aims of the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement aims to keep average global warming compared with the pre-industrial period well below 2ºC, and ideally below 1.5ºC. It also aims to channel financial flows into low-greenhouse-gas development and to improve our ability to adapt to climate change.

Common principles of the Paris Agreement

  • All states must set a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) every five years. While the attainment of targets is only politically binding, countries are legally obliged to implement national measures, report on the attainment of targets and subject them to international review.
  • All countries must set reduction targets that are clear, comprehensible and quantifiable. A reduction target must always go further than the one that preceded it and should be as ambitious as possible.
  • The agreement allows emissions reductions abroad to count towards target attainment, provided they ensure environmental integrity, promote sustainable development, and do not involve double counting. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement permits two forms of emissions reductions abroad, or 'Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes' (ITMOS): those from a mechanism under the Paris Agreement (Article 6.4) and those from bilateral or plurilateral agreements (Article 6.2).
  • The agreement eliminates the previous strict division between industrialised and developing countries. The poorest countries are allowed to apply their own judgement in implementing the agreement. Industrialised nations are also urged to act as pioneers by continuing to set themselves absolute macroeconomic targets. Developing countries, in turn, are urged to adopt macroeconomic targets on a progressive basis. The differentiation between the countries is dynamic, as the reduction targets are defined nationally and should reflect the maximum possible ambition of a given country. Each state's reduction target is thus calculated based on its evolving climate responsibility and capacity.
  • All countries should develop, submit and regularly update strategies and measures to adapt to climate change. The timing and form of the international declaration can be determined at the national level. The countries are also required to report regularly on their adaptation measures. The agreement reinforces the existing mechanisms for the avoidance and minimisation of loss and damage, however liability andcompensation were explicitly excluded. 
  • In relation to climate finance, the Paris Agreement does not specify any new obligations. Industrialised countries are still legally obliged to support developing countries in their emission-reduction and adaptation measures. For the first time, however, non-industrialised countries are also invited to support such measures. The mobilisation of investments from both public and private sources is now considered a task for all countries. Industrialised nations should nonetheless continue to play a pioneering role. The common target for industrialised countries to mobilise USD 100 billion per year in public and private finance from 2020 was confirmed up to 2025, and it is expected that a comparable new target will be set for the post-2025 period. Accordingly, industrialised countries are obliged to continue reporting every two years on the resources they have mobilised and, if possible, to provide indicative quantitative and qualitative information about proposed resources in the years to come. Further detail is planned with regard to the rules of this reporting. Similarly, developing countries are urged to report every two years on climate-friendly investments and international climate finance that they require, have received, or have mobilised themselves.

Switzerland is making good progress in implementing the Paris Agreement.

The reduction commitments made under the Paris Agreement are being implemented in national climate legislation. Switzerland has set itself emission reduction targets in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and scientific recommendations. Switzerland communicated its voluntary NDC in 2017, and has since strengthened its target.

Switzerland’s national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Switzerland has informe the international community of its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The voluntary NDC is available in the registry of the UNFCCC secretariat: 

With regard to adapting to climate change, the Federal Council has approved a two-part adaptation strategy for Switzerland under current CO2 legislation. Switzerland issued its adaptation communication in 2020, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Switzerland is making an appropriate contribution to the 100 billion dollars per year required from 2020 onwards. State resources have primarily been allocated through Switzerland's framework credit for international cooperation (IC) for the period 2017–20, while a smaller share will be drawn from the framework credit for the global environment for the period 2018–22. Switzerland is currently developing a strategy to support the targeted mobilisation of private funds for environmental protection work in developing countries.

Further information

Last modification 23.06.2023

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