The Paris Agreement on climate change enters into force

The early ratification of the Agreement by 97 parties so far sends a clear and positive signal that countries are conscious of the urgency to avert irreversible damage from climate change.

News | 04 November 2016
© Evan Schneider / UN
The landmark Paris Agreement on climate change has entered into force, paving the way for concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the effects of a changing climate and ensure a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

The Paris Agreement was adopted at the UN climate change conference in December 2015 by 195 countries as the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.

It required that at least 55 Parties accounting for at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions ratify it, for its entry into force 30 days later.

The early ratification of the Agreement by 97 parties so far sends a clear and positive signal that countries are conscious of the urgency to avert irreversible damage from climate change.

Indeed, the impacts of climate change are being felt all over the world, with unprecedented disruptions to social and economic fabrics, threatening jobs and livelihoods and jeopardizing the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations will need to act fast to achieve the goal of keeping the average global temperature rise from pre-industrial times below 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

An important element of the Paris Agreement is the recognition of “the imperative of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities”.

The world of work played a crucial role in the process leading to the adoption of the Paris Agreement. It will be indispensable to its successful implementation.

Enterprises will have to continue to spearhead innovation in developing green products and services, improve their business processes, and scale-up investments that will unleash climate-resilient growth through greater energy and material efficiency.

A capable workforce with adapted skills is necessary to transform our energy systems, buildings, industry, transport, and agriculture. A key challenge before us is to improve educational and training systems to deliver the required skills needed to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.

As the world embarks on such a massive economic structural transformation, significant implications can be expected in labour markets.

To ensure the transition is just, we need strong social consensus. Effective social dialogue can help governments and social partners define optimum solutions to build a climate safer world with minimum social disruption.

Innovative approaches to social protection systems in the wake of climate impacts can safeguard jobs, incomes and livelihoods, in particular for the most vulnerable.

We have sufficient indication that the opportunities for more and better jobs, secure incomes, social justice and reduction of poverty are much greater through decisive action to tackle climate change.

The Green Centenary Initiative of the ILO aims to assist governments, businesses and workers to better understand the challenges and opportunities of the transition and provide effective tools to enable an inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable development process.

The Green Initiative will contribute to give practical effect to the Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all, adopted by the ILO Governing Body in 2015 as a comprehensive framework for policy-making in the greening of economies.

The ILO is already supporting the application of these Guidelines in countries such as the Philippines and Uruguay, and expanding to other interested countries.

Through our own initiatives and engagement in the global response to climate change, the ILO stands ready to work with countries in achieving a just transition for all and the creation of decent jobs, leaving no one behind.