175 nations sign historic Paris climate deal on Earth Day

[Global] As 175 world leaders signed the Paris Agreement at United Nations Headquarters today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the next critical step is to ensure that the landmark accord for global action on climate change enters into force as soon as possible.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the signing of the climate agreement by a record number of countries is a moment for world leaders to recommit to actually win the "war" against carbon emissions. 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the signing of the climate agreement by a record number of countries is a moment for world leaders to recommit to actually win the “war” against carbon emissions.

“Today is an historic day,” Mr. Ban told reporters at a press conference following the opening ceremony of the signing event. “This is by far the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.”

According to the UN chief, the participation by so many countries and the attendance by so many world leaders leaves “no doubt” that the international community is determined to take climate action. He also welcomed the strong presence of the private sector and civil society, saying they are “crucial to realizing the great promise of the Paris Agreement.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) and President François Hollande of France brief the press. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) and President François Hollande of France brief the press. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Adopted in Paris by the 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a conference known as (COP21) last December, the Agreement’s objective is to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. It 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.

“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,” Mr. Ban highlighted, congratulating the 15 Parties that have already deposited their instruments for ratification.

President François Hollande of France signs the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the United Nations. UN Photo/Mark Garten
President François Hollande of France signs the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the United Nations. UN Photo/Mark Garten

“The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” Ban added.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the document while holding his young granddaughter. She was one of 197 children at the event to represent the parties that adopted the agreement, Ban said.

“These young people are our future. Our covenant is with them,” Ban said. “Today is a day for our children and grandchildren and all generations to come.”

The non-binding treaty, approved in Paris in December after years of U.N. climate negotiations, aims to slow the rise of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, blamed for putting Earth on a dangerous warming path.

The deal sets a target of limiting global warming by 2100 to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), as compared to pre-industrial levels. To accomplish that, each nation sets its own target for reducing emissions and updates that mark each year.

Friday’s signing sets a record for the number of countries signing an agreement on the first available day, the Associated Press reported. The old record goes back to the Law of the Sea in Montego Bay, which was signed by 119 countries in 1982, according to AccuWeather.

 

Photo: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff speaks during the Paris Agreement on climate change ceremony, Friday, April 22, 2016 at U.N. headquarters. (Photo: Mary Altaffer, AP)

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