World leaders sign Paris Agreement to combat climate change

World leaders from 175 nations signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on Friday 22nd April. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the next critical step is to make sure that the landmark agreement for worldwide action on global warming enters into force as soon as possible.

At a press conference yesterday, following the opening ceremony of the historic signing event, Mr. Ban said:

“This is by far the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.”

175 nations sign Paris AgreementFrench President François Hollande and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a press conference following the historic signing of the Paris Agreement by 175 countries. (Image: United Nations)

Mr. Ban believes that with so many countries participating and so many world leaders attending the signing, the international community appears determined to take climate action. He also welcomed the strong presence of private businesses and civil society, adding that they are ‘crucial to realizing the great promise of the Paris Agreement’.

Not let Earth’s surface temperature rise by 2°C

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 parties, who committed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at a conference known as COP21 in December 2015. The aim of the Agreement is to keep the global temperature increase to well below 2°C, and to aim for 1.5°C.

The Agreement will enter into force after 55 or more nations, accounting for fifty-five percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification.

After congratulating the fifteen parties who have already deposited their instruments for ratification, Mr. Ban highlighted:

“If all the countries that have signed today take the next step at the national level and join the Agreement, the world will have met the requirement needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force.”

Getrude ClementGetrude Clement, 16-year-old radio reporter from Tanzania and youth representative and climate advocate with UNICEF (UN Children’s Fund), addresses the opening segment of the signing ceremony. (UN Photo/Rick Bajorna)

These parties include Tuvalu, Somalia, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Palestine, Palau, Nauru, Mauritius, Marshal Islands, Maldives, Grenada, Fiji, Belize and Barbados.

French President François Hollande, who was speaking alongside the Secretary General, said:

“I want to underscore that in Paris, it wasn’t just a single agreement that was brought about and needs to be ratified. In Paris, there were also four initiatives that were launched: theInternational Solar Energy Alliance, the development plan for renewable energy, the innovation mission with [United States] President Obama, and finally the high-level coalition to set a price for fossil fuels and coal.”

Mr. Hollande insisted that his country needs to be the role model and set the example, not only because it was the venue where the accord was reached, but also because France contributed to the solution.

France will increase its annual funding of climate-change combating measures from 3 to 5 billion euros annually between now and the end of the decade.

Mr. Hollande added:

“France should be an example to show that it wants to be the first – or one of the first – not just to ratify but also to implement the contents of the Agreement.”

UN Paris Agreement Signing ceremonyThe United Nations says the Paris Agreement on climate change must aim for long-term environmental stability. (Image: United Nations)

In two weeks’ time, Mr. Ban will co-host the Climate Action 2016 meeting in Washington D.C., where many leaders and experts from several different fields will gather – experts from governments, academia, civil society and business – ahead of the next COP in Morocco in November.

After the press conference, in remarks to an Informal High-Level event promoting a swift implementation of the Agreement, Mr. Ban encouraged all nations to move forward rapidly with their own domestic processes to accept and ratify the agreement.

Drought in KenyaThe UN warns that the future is already upon us, and gives as an example a severe drought that started in northern and eastern Kenya in 2011. The region has suffered from food scarcity, high prices and malnutrition. (Image: United Nations)

Mr. Ban said:

“As you are well aware, we need at least 55 countries and 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Having 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions may be a little bit shorter and easier if the United States and China […] ratify or join. Then it will add to almost 40 per cent. I call on the countries gathered here to use this opportunity to announce your timeline for joining the Agreement as soon as possible.”

While the spirit of Paris still has force, it is imperative that strong political momentum continues to build, he said, and added: “I will do all that I can this year to ensure that the Paris Agreement enters into force as soon as possible.”

Video – Signing Ceremony of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

In this video, published by the US Department of State, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the United Nations in New York on 22 April, 2016.