International commitments made

Most states have signed up to some key international agreements, including the Rio Declaration of 1992, and the Paris Agreement of 2015.
These agreements commit the signatories
  • not to cause environmental damage beyond their national jurisdiction
  • to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels

Key points in the Rio Declaration

Some key points in the Rio Declaration of 1992 [1] are
The full text of these is given in Appendix A.

Key points in the Paris Agreement

Some key points in the Paris Agreement of 2015 [2] are


[1]Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (at the Rio United Nations Conference) (1992)
[2]The Paris Agreement (2015)

Appendix A: Selected Principles from the Rio Declaration (full text)

The responsibility not to cause environmental damage beyond the national border
Principle 2
States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
[Our emphasis]

Avoiding the transfer of harmful activities to other states
Principle 14
States should effectively cooperate to discourage or prevent the relocation and transfer to other States of any activities and substances that cause severe environmental degradation or are found to be harmful to human health.
[Our emphasis]

The precautionary principle
Principle 15
In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
[Our emphasis]

First published: 5 Jan 2023
Last updated: 8 Feb 2023