Glimmers of hope five years on from the Paris Agreement but progress still too slow to meet climate emergency

On the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and ahead of the Climate Action Summit, IIED director Andrew Norton said:
Press release, 12 December 2020

“This is an important moment to take stock and recognise the Paris Agreement can work. The commitments governments are making now are significantly stronger and more effective than five years ago when the process began. Given the right political conditions the ratchet mechanism can, as the architects of the agreement intended, produce increased ambition.

“The growing numbers of countries committing to achieve net zero emissions is welcome. Huge technological developments mean it is now possible and affordable to switch to a low-carbon economy, creating green jobs while stimulating a post-COVID-19 economic recovery. The urgency is clear. Worldwide the impacts of the climate crisis on nature and people are alarming. The public voice demanding change is ever louder.

“But wealthy governments need to meet their commitment to support vulnerable countries so they can adapt and thrive in the face of climate change. Much more needs to be done to make sure climate finance actually reaches the millions of women, children and men being hit by floods, drought and other extreme weather while also trying to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19 on their livelihoods.

“In a year of tight budgets, the richer countries need to do more to build trust with developing countries, reassure them that this money is available and ensure it has as much impact as possible. It is crucial they are more transparent about how they provide this finance. 

“They need to commit to ensuring at least half of all public climate finance specifically targets adaptation action, including efforts that harness the power of nature. This is vital for developing countries to be able to achieve their ambitious climate action plans, and help their societies and businesses adapt and thrive, prepare for shocks such as COVID-19 as well as protect the ecosystems on which all life depends. 

“As host of the Climate Action Summit and next year of the UN climate summit and G7, the United Kingdom is in a powerful position to encourage other governments to follow its lead and commit to substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions. If the least developed countries can do this, so can the richest countries. The big emitters, including laggards such as Russia, Australia and Brazil, need to pick up the pace and take credible steps to make the cuts that are urgently needed to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Beth Herzfeld, IIED head of media, on +44(0)7503 643 332 or email

Notes to editors

  • The Climate Ambition Summit 2020 will mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on 12 December
  • On 9 December, the Least Developed Countries Group hosted the Thimphu Ambition Summit to encourage all countries, particularly developed countries, to increase their climate ambition including the submission of new Nationally Determined Contributions before the end of 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement goal to keep the temperature rise to below 1.5°C. They also called for access to climate finance and support to meet their own climate ambitions to transform to low-carbon climate resilient societies. The LDC Group is comprised of the 46 poorest countries; they are the least responsible for climate change and among those most vulnerable to its impacts. Read the LDC ambition statements from the Thimphu Ambition Summit and the LDC chair’s reflection

For more information or to request an interview, contact Sarah Grainger: +44 7503 643332 or