By Candice Arendse
During COP 21 in Paris 2015, 195 parties to the UNFCCC reached a historical point of establishing a legally binding global agreement to address climate change and invest in a low carbon future for all. The Paris Agreement marks a significant time in the history of the climate change negotiations, and also plays a vital role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Image below: World leaders attending COP21 where the Paris Agreement was adopted
The Agreement, which was opened for signature on 22 April 2016, will be implemented once 55 countries have ratified the treaty, accounting for at least 55 per cent of global emissions. On 03 September 2016, China and the United States submitted their instruments of ratification, an action that is considered to demonstrate the dedication of global efforts to address climate change. The two countries are responsible jointly for 38 per cent of global emissions.
In an interview with Jean Chemnick of ClimateWire, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa said that the US presidential race and Donald Trump’s pledge to renege on the US commitment to the Paris Agreement is a “major topic of discussion in global climate circles”. She said that the way countries respond would determine the extent of the consequences.
On 21 September 2016, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a high level event to accelerate entry into force of the Paris Agreement. At the event, a further 31 countries ratified: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Dominica, Ghana, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, Kiribati, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Vanuatu.
This brings the number of parties who have ratified the Paris Agreement to 60, accounting for 47,76 per cent of global emissions. “This momentum is remarkable,” Ban said: “It can sometimes take years or even decades for a treaty to enter into force. It is just nine months since the Paris climate conference. This is testament to the urgency of the crisis we all face.”
A further 14 Parties, representing 12,58 per cent of global emissions, have announced their commitment to ratify this year: Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, European Union, France, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Poland, and the Republic of Korea.
Follow the status of ratification of the Paris Agreement