International

Paris climate treaty clears first hurdle to early entry into force

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a ceremony to mark more signatories to the Paris climate accords at U.N. Headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a ceremony to mark more signatories to the Paris climate accords at U.N. Headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.   | Photo Credit: Seth Wenig

60 countries have ratified the treaty till now, accounting for nearly 48% of global emissions, falling short of the requisite 55%

Thirty one countries submitted their ratification instruments for the >Paris climate treaty to the UN on Wednesday, bringing the total count of countries that have endorsed the treaty to 60, accounting for nearly 48 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

At a ratification ceremony for the >Paris agreement held in the UN headquarters on Wednesday, the countries that endorsed the treaty helped clear the first hurdle of 55 countries required for its early entry into force by 2016. However, the total global emissions count currently falls short of the requisite 55 per cent for the treaty to enter into force. Fourteen more countries will join the agreement later in 2016, virtually assuring entry into force, an official statement from the UN said.

Eager to leave behind a legacy of positive climate action, before he exits office next year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pushed countries to come forward and ratify the treaty at the earliest possible during the second day of the 71st UNGA underway now. The U.S. government too has been keen to see through the treaty before President Barack Obama exits office next year.

Speaking at the ratification ceremony in the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We are already seeing the impacts of climate change. People are dying of heat, or being displaced,” urging more countries to join the fight against climate change.

Mr. Ban observed that the continued strong global momentum for climate action was unprecedented. Most international treaties take several years to enter into force. The Kyoto Protocol had entered into force eight years after it was first signed in 1997.

“Today we can say with ever more confidence that this historic moment is likely to come very soon, perhaps even by the time governments meet for the next round of climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco in November,” Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC said at the ceremony.

Brexit impact on EU ratification

The European Union with its bloc of 28 countries could likely provide a major boost to the Paris treaty’s early entry into force. But there have been fears that the impact of Brexit and Poland’s ongoing constitutional crisis could delay the ratification process of the Paris treaty. However, official spokespersons The Hindu reached out to dismissed such talks.

Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, the European Commission’s spokesperson for Energy and Climate Actions told The Hindu in a written response that Brexit is unlikely to impact the prospects of the Paris treaty and the EU is aiming for early ratification by the end of the year, although member countries will have to individually pursue their ratification processes back at home. “It is far too early to speculate on the question of future impact of the outcome of the UK referendum,” she said. As of now, only five EU member countries have ratified the treaty at home.

Adriano Campolina, ActionAid Chief Executive, said that prospects of an early entry into force of the Agreement less than a year since the Paris adoption of the treaty would have been an important signal and step forward to protect the lives of millions of people around the world. Criticising the EU countries for not ratifying the treaty during the UN ceremony, despite being the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, she said: “European countries’ failure to ratify today is a dent in the climate leadership it has prided itself on previously.”

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