What Paris means for leaders

What Paris means for leaders

The Paris outcome went beyond an agreement between governments at COP21 to accelerate climate action. Paris was a major political moment that will continue to catalyse transformational shifts from a broad range of stakeholders worldwide. Public reactions from political, moral, institutional and business leaders are testament to the impact of this new global framework on the world, who are seizing ownership of the Paris outcome and using it to speed up decarbonisation and climate resilience at all levels.

E3G has collated reactions from leaders to media and on social media to provide a resource for the climate community to ensure these leaders deliver far beyond Paris.


Barack Obama, US President

  • A few hours ago we succeeded; we came together around the strong agreement the world needed. We met the moment.
  • Together we’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one.
  • No nation, not even one as powerful as ours, can solve this challenge alone. No country however small can sit on the sidelines. All of us had to solve it together
  • Today the American people can be proud because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership
  • No agreement is perfect, not even this one. … We cannot be complacent, the problem’s not solved
  • Make no mistake: the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis
  • This agreement will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens our planet and more of the jobs and economic growth driven by low carbon investment
  • Sends a powerful signal that the world is firmly committed to a low carbon future that has the potential to launch investment and innovation in clean energy at a scale we’ve never seen before
  • The targets we have set ourselves are bold and by empowering business, scientists, engineers, workers, the private sector, investors to work together this agreement represents the best change we’ve had to save the one planet we’ve got

John Kerry, US Secretary of State – This is a tremendous victory for all of our citizens, not for any one country, or any one bloc, but for everybody here who has worked so hard to bring this across the finish line. It is a victory for all of the planet and for future generations. We have set a course here. The world has come together around an agreement that will empower us to chart a new path for our planet, a smart and responsible path, a sustainable path.

Hilary Clinton – We cannot afford to be slowed by the climate sceptics or deterred by the defeatists who doubt America's ability to meet this challenge. That's why as president, I will make combating climate change a top priority from day one, and secure America's future as the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.
Tweeted: The Paris climate agreement is an historic step. We don't have to choose between economic growth & protecting our planet—we can do both

Al Gore – “This universal and ambitious agreement sends a clear signal to governments, businesses, and investors everywhere: the transformation of our global economy from one fuelled by dirty energy to one fuelled by sustainable economic growth is now firmly and inevitably under way … No agreement is perfect, and this one must be strengthened over time, but groups across every sector of society will now begin to reduce dangerous carbon pollution through the framework of this agreement”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi hailed it as a "monumental moment"; Senate minority leader Harry Reid said climate change poses one of the greatest threats the world has ever known, and that no country acting alone can stem the tide.


Angela Merkel, German chancellor – "Paris will always be connected with this historic turning point in climate policy." Describing the agreement as a ‘Signal of hope,’ she affirmed there is lots of work to do to deliver it.

David Cameron, UK prime minister – Paris Agreement marked “a huge step forward in helping to secure the future of our planet”… “The talks at the COP21 conference in Paris have culminated in a global deal, with the whole world now signed up to play its part in halting climate change. In other words, this generation has taken vital steps to ensure that our children and grandchildren will see that we did our duty in securing the future of our planet. What is so special about this deal is that it puts the onus on every country to play its part."

Miguel Arias-Cañete, EU commissioner for Climate and Energy – "This deal is a major win for the global community. It is the major multilateral deal of the 21st century. It is a major win for Europe and its allies. Today Europeans should be proud of Europe. […] It might not be perfect but we have all nuts and bolts for a robust agreement. […] 1.5C means a trajectory of full decarbonisation."

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission – "Today the world is united in the fight against climate change. Today the world gets a lifeline, a last chance to hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies. This robust agreement will steer the world towards a global clean energy transition."

François Hollande, French president (in translation)

  • You have shown we are capable of going beyond important national interests to reach not any agreement, but an ambitious, universal and binding agreement.
  • Meets up to scale of the responsibility conferred on to you, including by Heads of State and Government
  • Later when they ask us, when we ask ourselves on the meaning of our lives, what we accomplished in our lives … we will tell many stories but one will keep coming back: the 12th December 2015, when we were in Paris for the climate agreement.
  • I am confident, because never before has an issue brought together so many leaders, never before have we had so many INDCs from governments – we’re now on a pathway to limit global temperatures
  • We’re seeing a powerful and irreversible transition, which goes well beyond countries. Thousands of cities, regions; business and finance will reorient investments to low carbon, we launched multiple initiatives in Paris – energy for all, solar energy, innovation, sharing technology. Initiatives which will revolutionise the world and drive the transition
  • Not the end, but the beginning
  • To accelerate this movement, I pledge that France will revise up its 2020 targets for mitigation and finance
  • It was in Paris that we adopted the declaration of human rights – this is the declaration of the rights of humanity – this revolution here that I want to underline is carried forward in this agreement
  • We have shown the UN is capable and the international community can take this responsibility
  • Lots of revolutions have taken place in Paris but today this is the most beautiful and peaceful of revolutions that we have accomplished – vive the UN, the planet and France!

Major and emerging economy leaders

Xi Jinping, Chinese president

  • The Paris deal, which resulted from concerted efforts of the international community, charts a clear course for global cooperation on fighting climate change from 2020
  • China, the United States and other relevant parties maintained close coordination and jointly contributed to the success of the UN climate conference in Paris
  • the Paris meeting marked a new starting point in global response to climate change.
  • China is willing to work with the United States and other relevant parties to ensure the implementation of the Paris deal, and effectively expand pragmatic bilateral cooperation in tackling climate change so as to bring more benefits to the two peoples as well as people in other parts of the world
  • China wishes to maintain coordination and cooperation with the U.S. side on major global issue

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexican president tweeted (in translation)

  • The Paris Agreement on climate change lays the foundation for a sustainable, low carbon global economy
  • Mexico is committed and determined to adopt the Paris Agreement

Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian president tweeted (in translation)

  • The historic Paris Agreement was adopted today, with the decisive participation of Brazil
  • The Paris Agreement is fair , ambitious, balanced , long-term , legally binding
  • Brazil is proud to have worked for the Paris Agreement , as a facilitator and builder of the solutions that were adopted
  • The agreement provides for voluntary support among developing countries. Brazil may follow with South-South cooperation.

Narenda Modi, Indian prime minister tweeted

  • Outcome of Paris Agreement has no winners or losers. Climate justice has won and we are all working towards a greener future
  • Climate change remains a challenge but Paris Agreement demonstrates how every nation rose to the challenge, working towards a solution
  • Deliberations at COP21 & Paris Agreement demonstrates the collective wisdom of world leaders to mitigate climate change

Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar –

  • "We have opened a new chapter of hope in the lives of 7 billion peopleon the planet. We have (the planet) on loan from future generations. We have today reassured these future generations that we will all together give them a better earth."
  • "The Paris agreement acknowledges and recognises the development imperatives of India and other developing countries"
  • "This month Paris has proved that the world comes together and that is the answer to mitigate the challenge posed by climate change".

Jacob Zuma, South African president – “The success in Paris is the culmination of the watershed Durban Climate Change Conference in 2011 where parties to the convention agreed to the mandate for the Paris Agreement. The agreement presents a big step forward in committing all countries to act decisively against climate change. Through this agreement, hope has been restored for a safe and prosperous future, where climate change will be adequately addressed.


  • Environment Minister Greg Hunt describing the pact as "arguably the most important environmental agreement ever."
  • Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said the agreement was "an historic step in the global response to climate change"


Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund managing director

  • “The Paris Agreement is a critical step forward in addressing the challenge of global climate change in the 21st century. Governments must now put words into actions, in particular by implementing policies that make effective progress on the mitigation pledges they have made”

Jim Yong Kim, World Bank president

  • "We welcome the historic agreement that has just been reached in Paris. The world has come together to forge a deal that finally reflects the aspiration, and the seriousness, to preserve our planet for future generations. We called for strong ambition, for remarkable partnerships, for mobilization of finance, and for implementation of national climate plans. Paris delivered. Now the job becomes our shared responsibility."
  • “This is extraordinary. It’s a game changer. I could never have imagined that we would get there. It forces us to rethink …. [The deal included] the first official link between climate change and poverty. I feel better about my children’s future than I did.”

Richard Branson – "Today, the course of history has shifted. Paris will be remembered for generations as a watershed moment when the people of the world came together and set us on a pathway to climate neutrality, economic justice and shared prosperity. We have an opportunity to build a new economy, and business is poised to be a partner and help make it happen. The “Paris effect” will ensure the economy of the future is driven by clean energy."

Philippe Defosses, director of ERAPF (French pension fund) – "The Paris agreement marks a tipping point. Going forward the world has a shared vision that will lead inexorably to investors moving away from fossil fuels and towards a future powered by low carbon energy."

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO

  • "The consequences of this agreement go far beyond the actions of governments.They will be felt in banks, stock exchanges, board rooms and research centres as the world absorbs the fact that we are embarking on an unprecedented project to decarbonise the global economy. This realisation will unlock trillions of dollars and the immense creativity and innovation of the private sector who will rise to the challenge in a way that will avert the worst effects of climate change.”
  • “Today’s agreement demonstrates without question that it is possible for us to come together in common cause to address the greatest challenges we face, preventing tragedy for the many millions of people vulnerable to the effects of climate change and securing the economic prosperity of the world in the 21st century.”
  • “The result is an unequivocal signal to the business and financial communities, one that will drive real change in the real economy. The billions of dollars pledged by developed countries will be matched with the trillions of dollars that will flow to low carbon investment.”

Arianna Huffington – “This is truly a turning point in human history. We now have the chance to advance the wellbeing of people everywhere, while creating millions of new jobs and ending our reliance on fossil fuels. This will help us build a safer, more peaceful world for all. This is exactly what business needs in order to thrive in the long run.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Abyd Karmali, managing director for climate finance) – “The global market for low-carbon goods and services is already worth $5.5tn a year and this deal will turbocharge the amount of capital chasing new low-carbon investment opportunities”

Stephanie Pfeifer, IIGCC chief executive (European network of institutional investors with €13tn in assets) – “This agreement provides an unequivocal signal for investors to help escalate the development of low-carbon infrastructure.”

Moral voices

Anote Tong, president of Kiribati – "at the start of the discussions quite a number of countries did not go for 1.5C, but by the end of the discussions I think the miracle did happen"

The Pope – Sunday 13 December address – “Putting it into practice will need a concerted commitment and a generous dedication on the part of all … I exhort the entire international community to move forward urgently along the path that has been taken, in a sign of solidarity"

International institutions

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General – “This is a monumental triumph for people and planet. Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. I have listened to people – the young, the poor, the vulnerable from every corner of the globe. We have heeded their voices, as was our duty

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP

  • “The Paris Agreement is probably the most important international agreement in history."
  • "Nations of the world have underlined that climate change is a threat to the security and prosperity of all societies, and can only be addressed through unity of purpose.
  • “This agreement is a testament to the ability of our societies to set aside differences and confront collective challenges for the global good. Importantly, the agreement has provisions to protect the most vulnerable. Fairness and equity are at the heart of this accord.
  • “Governments have sent a signal to the private sector that the momentum toward sustainability cannot be stopped. This is what the world needed to see.”

Analysts from science and economics

International Energy Agency – The Paris Agreement is nothing less than a historic milestone for the global energy sector. It will speed up the transformation of the energy sector by accelerating investments in cleaner technologies and energy efficiency.

Lord Nicholas Stern – “This is a historic moment, not just for us but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change which threatens prosperity. It creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards low-carbon economic growth.

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research – “One thing is clear is that in order to even aspire to 1.5C you need not only rapid decarbonisation of the global economy by the middle of century, but you probably have to remove some carbon from the atmosphere, in particular afforestation on degraded lands, which is a win/win option anyway”

Professor Myles Allen, Oxford University – “Achieving a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century will require net carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced, in effect, to zero … It seems governments understand this, even if they couldn’t quite bring themselves to say so,” he said.


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