U.N. countries eager to ratify Paris climate change deal — maybe two years earlier


U.N. countries eager to ratify Paris climate change deal — maybe two years earlier

Figueres speaking at Chatham House in October 2012. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Figueres speaking at Chatham House in October 2012. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

One week from now, on April 22, officials representing 130 countries are expected at a high-level signing ceremony in New York. If enough countries sign, the landmark Paris agreement on climate change reached in December in Paris could enter into force two years earlier than expected. This enthusiasm and seemingly genuine spirit of cooperation can only be saluted. But we need action, not words. This is an urgent matter that can’t suffer any delay.

At COP21, Paris a total of 195 countries agreed to action that would limit warming to two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. The representatives did not adopt the text, though. Rather, it was a formal agreement. In New York, the first steps to country level ratification will begin.

According to the UN’s Framework, the “Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 % of total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Depositary.”

China and the United States account for roughly 40 percent of all global warming emissions. Since March 30, the two countries have already stated a clear position that they will adopt the Paris text. This means only 15 percent more need to sign. India accounts for 4.1 percent, and will also likely sign too. The country is part of the BASIC group, which includes  Brazil, South Africa, China, alongside India, which recently stated it will definitely sign the document in New York next week. “We think there may be more, but let’s see what happens on 22 April,” said United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres whose term will end in July.

“The BASIC countries will sign the Paris Agreement in New York on April 22. Then each country will start the process of ratification domestically. We urge other countries to sign the agreement,” Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters at the close of the 22nd meeting of the BASIC, the first after 195 countries finalised the new global treaty in Paris in December.

Various scenarios that might make the agreement enter into force.

According to the action plan signed in Paris, each country will reduce or cap greenhouse gas emissions, depending on their historical responsibilities. Additionally, $100 billion will be raised every year from 2020 onward to fund efforts where they’re most needed and effective.

After the document is signed, each country has to go through a ratification which varies from country to country.

“We are two minutes to midnight on climate change. If you ask me, the Paris agreement is 10 years too late,” said Ms. Figueres.

“The quality of investment today equals the quality of energy tomorrow – equals the quality of life forever,” Figueres said. “It is not correct to think we are going to deal with climate change tomorrow. We have to deal with it today.”