21 September 2016 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today that more than 55 countries have formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change signed by world leaders this past April, officially crossing one of the two thresholds required to bring into force the landmark pact that 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,” the UN chief said in remarks following a high-level event on the Agreement’s entry into force at UN Headquarters in New York this morning. “This will be a major achievement for multilateralism.”
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.
Adopted in Paris by the 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a conference known as COP21 this past December, the Agreement calls on countries to combat climate change and 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 22 April 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. Following today’s meeting, formal approval from countries representing 7.5 per cent in global emissions is still needed.
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,” Mr. 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 added.
Nine months since the Paris climate conference
At the start of today’s meeting, the Secretary-General also praised the 29 countries – accounting for 40 per cent of global emissions – that had previously formally joined the Agreement since the signing ceremony, congratulating them for their continued efforts to push forward the pact’s entry into force.
Today will take us one step closer to bringing the Paris Agreement into force this year
“There is no time to waste. Today will take us one step closer to bringing the Paris Agreement into force this year,” the UN chief stressed.
Hailing the unprecedented and continued global momentum behind the Agreement, Mr. Ban called on world leaders to capitalize on that momentum to ensure the pact’s entry into force and limit climate risks for a healthy planet.
“The remarkable support for this Agreement reflects the urgency and magnitude of the challenge. Emissions continue to rise. So does the global thermostat – and the risks,” the UN chief said.
“Climate impacts are increasing. No nation or community is immune, but the vulnerable are feeling the effects first and worst,” he added.
He also thanked the countries that deposited their instruments of ratification today, as well as those world leaders who have submitted recorded video messages committing to join the Agreement before the end of the year.
“I commend this collective display of leadership. Only through such solidarity can we limit climate risks and build a world of peace, dignity and prosperity for all on a healthy planet,” Mr. Ban said.
In remarks to the media following the high-level meeting this morning, the UN chief highlighted that just nine months have passed since the Paris climate conference.
“This is testament to the urgency of the crisis we have,” Mr. Ban reiterated, adding that, with the Paris Agreement, “we have a real chance to reduce global emissions and build climate resilience.”