So, what is the Paris Agreement?


The United States is back in the Paris Agreement. Here's what that means for our future:

23390406322_3a75d930e0_oPhoto by UNclimatechange

December 12, 2015—a landmark date where 195 nations committed to reducing emissions and taking action to address the climate crisis. This commitment, the Paris Agreement, was signed by nearly every country at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France. 

Though originally signed by the United States, former president Donald Trump withdrew the nation from the agreement, making the United States one of just eight countries not signed onto the agreement. 

In his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed the United States back onto the Paris Agreement. To share what this milestone means for people and the planet, we put together a guide on understanding the agreement and how it will inform our future. 


So, how does the Paris Agreement work? 

The main goal of the Paris Agreement is progress. Solving the climate crisis is a broad and multifaceted goal requiring global cooperation. This type of commitment and international action requires a framework, which is exactly what the Paris Agreement puts forward.

While every country that signed onto the agreement committed to the same goals, carrying out climate action looks different around the world. Understanding the goals in the Paris Agreement makes it clear why signing on is not only the responsible thing to do, it's imperative to our future.


Shawn Corrigan 20181029_SPC_Honnolf_Foundation-1657-JPGPhoto by Shawn Corrigan


“The key to successful environmentalism is all about incremental progress. It’s moving forward, setting goals, and working toward them."
Alex Honnoldclimber, founder of the Honnold Foundation and 1% for the Planet individual member





Reducing Emissions

One of the major goals of the agreement is to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a goal of 1.5 degrees celsius. With this goal comes a recognition that global temperatures will soon reach their peak, and that it's unfair to impose the same timeframe of reduction on every nation. Developing countries will take longer to curb their emissions, while developed countries should start limiting emissions immediately.


Transparency & Accountability

To take meaningful action, countries must hold each other accountable for their commitments. Every five years, nations will reconvene to update one another and the public on their implementation of the agreement and how they can enhance their national contributions.



Since climate action doesn’t look the same for everyone, and different countries have access to different resources, a true implementation of the Paris Agreement requires global collaboration. Each country has identified Nationally Determined Contributions, and will carry out action in accordance with their strengths and available resources, while supporting other nations in doing the same.

23692333176_9f641e967e_oPhoto by UNclimatechange

What does a world under the Paris Agreement look like?

The Paris Agreement seeks to secure a future where climate action is collaborative, methodical and carried out in a way that ensures a thriving future for people and the planet. A world under the Paris Agreement means more than reducing emissions— it means focusing on climate justice to find equitable solutions for everyone on Earth. 

Moving forward, we can expect countries adhering to the Paris Agreement to take action by:
  • Meeting national goals to reduce emissions and environmental impact

  • Moving toward a reliance on clean energy

  • Creating more green transportation options (public transport, bike shares)

  • Prioritizing carbon-neutrality 

  • Considering environmental impact in all decision-making processes 

But, you don't have to wait and rely on others to take action. 

Climate action doesn't start and end with the Paris Agreement. Everyone has the opportunity to make an impact in their own communities.

With 1% for the Planet, supporting climate action can be as simple as looking for our logo when you shop. The businesses in our network are funding the work needed to forge a positive path forward, regardless of what's on the agendas of politicians and global leaders. 

Paris AgreementPhoto by Bank of the West

The 1% for the Planet checking account at Bank of the West connects environmental action and banking, making it simple to integrate giving back into your everyday life. Our network makes it easy to find businesses and organizations like Bank of the West that are prioritizing the planet and fighting for a better future. 

Joining 1% for the Planet means becoming a part of a community dedicated to fighting for our future, and being able to rest assured that all giving is going toward vetted causes forging real solutions. 


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