NEW YORK, United States, Friday April 22, 2016 – Caribbean leaders are among more than 170 world leaders who signed the Paris Agreement on climate change – the landmark accord that sets outs a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous global warming – this morning at the United Nations headquarters.
And Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries to move quickly to join the accord at the national level so that it can enter into force as early as possible.
The Paris Agreement was adopted by all 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on 12 December 2015. All countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Paris Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance with the Secretary-General.
“Let us never forget – climate action is not a burden; indeed, it offers many benefits,” the UN chief said as he opened the High Level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement. “It can help us eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women.”
Ban underscored that while it is good news that states are breaking records at the UN, records are also being broken outside.
“Record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere. We are in a race against time,” he pointed out, stressing that the window for keeping global temperate rise well below two degrees Celsius – let alone 1.5 degrees – is “rapidly closing.”
“The era of consumption without consequences is over. We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies. And we must support developing countries in making this transition. The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” the Secretary-General added.
In that vein, the UN chief highlighted that climate action is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Today is a day that I have worked toward since day one as Secretary-General of the United Nations and declared climate change to be my top priority. Today you are signing a new covenant with the future,” he said.
But he also stressed that the covenant must amount to “more than promises”, and find expression in actions taken today on behalf of the current generation and all future generations.
Today’s special signing ceremony takes place on the first day that the Paris Agreement will open for signatures. It will remain open for one year.