The landmark 2015 Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commits all countries to keep global mean temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels by the end of the century and to make efforts to limit the temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. For the first time all countries recognize the need to peak global greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible” and to fully decarbonize their economies during this century to achieve net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions. In Paris, negotiators achieved what can be reasonably be expected from a global climate agreement. Now scientists, engineers, businessmen, policymakers, politicians, and civil society must make the transformation to low-emission societies a reality.

Critically, the agreement asks all countries to prepare by 2020 low-emission development strategies that chart out how emissions will fall through to 2020. Such strategies had been proposed in the September Joint Presidential Statement by China and the United States and by over 40 heads of state convening at the United Nations. SDSN has played an instrumental role in developing and popularizing the concept of long-term pathways through the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP). The importance of these pathways for climate diplomacy and implementation is described here.

The Paris Agreement also emphasizes the central role of advances in low-emission technologies and their diffusion. The Low-Emission Technology Partnership initiative (LCTPi) spearheaded by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and launched with support from the SDSN aims to advance the pace of development for key technologies.

For questions about the SDSN’s work on climate change, please contact Elena Crete at 

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