Paris Agreement Close to Entry Into Force Threshold
More than 55 countries have formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change, officially crossing one of the two thresholds required to bring it into force. The landmark pact seeks to put the world on a path towards low-carbon growth and a more sustainable future.
“I am confident that, by the time I leave office, the Paris Agreement will have entered into force,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following a high-level event on the Agreement’s entry into force at U.N. Headquarters in New York.
At the meeting, 31 additional countries deposited their instruments of ratification for the Agreement, bringing the total to 60 countries that together represent more than 47.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Formal approval from countries representing 7.5 per cent in global emissions is still needed.
Adopted in Paris by the 195 Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a conference known as COP21 last December, the Agreement calls on countries to combat climate change, to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future and to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change. Specifically, it seeks to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The pact – which was signed in New York on April 22 by 175 countries at the largest, single-day signing ceremony in history – will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification.
In early September, the world’s two largest emitters, China and the United States, joined the Agreement.
Noting that he is heartened by the “tremendous support” for bringing the Agreement into force in 2016, the Secretary-General said that a “diverse group” of world leaders have committed to ratify and deposit their legal instruments this year. That group includes Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, the European Union, France, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Poland and the Republic of Korea.
“Now, this means we will cross the final barrier for entry into force of the Paris Agreement,” Ban stressed, appealing to all leaders to accelerate their domestic procedures to join the Agreement this year.
“When this year ends, I hope we can all look back with pride, knowing that, together, we seized the opportunity to act for the common good, for a sustainable future and the protection of our common home,” he said.
“Climate impacts are increasing. No nation or community is immune, but the vulnerable are feeling the effects first and worst.”
Regulation of aviation and shipping emissions are not included in the Paris text but make up around five percent of global emissions. The European Commission estimates that air and marine transportation could contribute as much as a third of all emissions by 2050.
Kerry Alarmed but Hopeful
“Each day, the course that our planet is on has become more dangerous, and the alarming findings have only continued since the agreement was gaveled in,” said U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. “Recently, we learned that the last two months, July and August, were the hottest ever recorded on the planet, but they were the 14th and 15th consecutive record-setting months in a row.
“And we know now that last year contributed to the last decade that was the hottest decade in recorded history, and the decade before that was the second-hottest decade in recorded history, and the decade before that the third-hottest decade in recorded history.
“So if ever anybody doubted science, all they have to do is watch, feel, sense what is happening in the world today. And make no mistake, anybody, these high temperatures are already having consequences, already people dying in the heat, already people moving because of lack of water, already we have climate refugees on this planet, already we see more powerful storm surges, already we see lower productivity in many industries, and serious impacts on public health and well-being.
“We know there are diseases that used to die because it got cold and it doesn’t get cold. We know that species are moving and that the ecosystem of the planet, including the oceans, is changing.”
I don’t think any of us believe that any government, one government, or even governments coming together are actually going to be the ones who achieve the huge challenge of keeping the rise of temperature to 2-degrees centigrade, said Kerry.
“It’s going to be some magician, some young entrepreneur, some kid in a basement, some genius who comes up with better battery storage or better solar panels that have greater efficiency and lower cost. The private sector is going to take the message we sent in Paris and invest, and we will find a solution to this challenge. I have no doubt about that.”