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Paris Agreement crosses major milestone on way to entry into force
September 24, 2016, 5:12 pm

On Wednesday, 21 September, the Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, delivered a statement in which she thanked the 31 governments who helped take the number of Parties to the Paris Climate Change Agreement past the key threshold of 55.

The UN’s top climate official said, "As of 21 September we have 60 Parties who have deposited the relevant instruments adding to the 29 who deposited their instruments over the past few months — this is an extraordinary momentum by nations and a clear signal of their determination to implement the Paris Agreement now and raise ambition over the decades to come."

At a special event organized by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters in New York on 21 September, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Dominica, Ghana, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, Kiribati, Madagascar, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Vanuatu deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession of the Paris agreement.

"We now look forward to the final threshold that will, 30 days later, trigger entry into force. Namely, at least 55 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions also being covered by Parties who have ratified, accepted, approved or acceded to the Paris Agreement with the UN’s Depositary," added Ms. Espinosa.

For the treaty to enter into force, at least 55 Parties covering at least 55 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions are required to join the Agreement. The next milestone is achieving the 55 percent target; currently the 60 countries who have ratified the agreement together account for 47.76 percent of emissions.

"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," she said.

"The adoption, signing and ratification of the Paris Agreement are wonderful news but by no means the end. Securing a climate-safe world and supporting the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals is a multi-decadal effort of constant improvement. But we are out of the blocks and off down the track with enthusiasm, creativity and determination to make the transformation the people of this world expect and need," she added.

Entry into force will trigger a variety of procedural activities. For example it will trigger the first Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement or in short the CMA1.

The climate action plans, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted in the run up to the Paris conference, are transformed into Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Governments will also be obligated to take action to achieve the two temperature limits enshrined in the agreement — staying well below 2 degrees C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C over pre-industrial levels, this century.

The next key milestone, following ratification and entry into force, is likely to be the swift and successful conclusion of negotiations to develop the rule book that will allow implementation to begin in earnest.

"Daily, positive announcements of climate action by nations but also companies, investors and cities, regions, territories and states have been a hallmark of 2016. The urgency is to evolve this ever higher in the years and decades to come," said Ms. Espinosa.

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