Historic Climate Deal Signed by 175 Nations

Historic Climate Deal Signed by 175 Nations
Historic Climate Deal Signed by 175 Nations

Leaders from more than 170 nations signed the landmark climate change pact known as the Paris Agreement on Friday during an Earth Day ceremony in New York.

The event, held at the United Nations headquarters, marked the largest number of countries to sign an international agreement on a single day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening remarks, IBTimes reported.

“Congratulations, one and all … the spirit and solidarity of Paris still lives.”

World leaders in December agreed to adopt a global accord for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning from high-carbon fuels to cleaner energy sources. Delegates from wealthier nations also vowed to help vulnerable developing countries adapt to the effects of global warming, such as sea level rise, more intense and frequent storms, and punishing droughts.

The UN said 175 states took the first step of signing the deal on Friday, the biggest day one endorsement of a global agreement. Of those, 15 states also formally notified the United Nations that they had ratified the deal.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signed the agreement Friday on behalf of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.

  Just the Beginning

The signing ceremony is the second of four steps required to cement the Paris agreement into international policy. Individual countries now must ratify the deal domestically. Once a minimum of 55 countries representing at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions adopt the climate accord, the policy will “enter into force” and become legally binding.

China and the United States, who together account for 38% of global emissions, pledged to ratify the agreement by the yearend, Reuters reported.

“China will finalize domestic legal procedures on its accession before the G20 Hangzhou summit in September this year,” China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli told the UN signing ceremony, attended by some 55 heads of state and government.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US “looks forward to formally joining this agreement this year.” President Barack Obama will formally adopt the agreement through executive authority.

The deal commits countries to restraining the global rise in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But even if the pact is fully implemented, promised greenhouse gas cuts are insufficient to limit warming to an agreed maximum, the UN says.

The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the planet’s warmest year since records began in the 19th century, with heat waves, droughts and rising sea levels.

“The era of consumption without consequences is over,” Ban Ki-moon said. “We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies. And we must support developing countries in making this transition.”

The 15 countries that have already ratified the deal are a group of small, developing nations, including Belize, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Somalia, Samoa and Tuvalu.

The nations are among those most vulnerable to global warming effects. Tuvalu, an island nation in the South Pacific about 600 miles north of Fiji, is losing critical freshwater supplies as rising seawater seeps into its aquifers. In Somalia and other arid countries in the Horn of Africa, the land is drying out at an unusually fast pace due to soaring greenhouse gas emissions, Columbia University scientists have found.