Paris Agreement signing ceremony
Landmark United Nations climate deal opens for signing at ceremony in New York on 22 April.
By George Smeeton
Information on this page correct as of:
This Friday, at a high-level ceremony convened by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, the Paris Agreement on climate change is opened for signature.
Although the agreement will be open for signatures for a year, the UN expects a record number of 155 member states to sign the agreement on the first day.
The previous record for an international agreement was 119 signatures set at the ceremony for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in Montego Bay in 1982.
Following the signing, member states must formally approve or ratify the agreement.
The Paris Agreement will enter into force when at least 55 Parties to the UN’s climate convention (UNFCCC), accounting in total for at least 55% of total global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the agreement.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said at a lecture in University College London recently that she expects the agreement to come into effect by 2018, earlier than a planned date of 2020.
Major greenhouse gas emitters including the US, China and India, covering 46% of global emissions, have already pledged to ratify the agreement before the end of 2016.
News website Climate Home also noted the role of emerging economies in pushing for an early ratification, noting that previous laggards on climate action like China and India are now ‘setting the pace in deployment of clean energy’.
Although the UN expects over 60 world leaders to attend the signing ceremony, there is no expectation for heads of state to attend. President Obama will be visiting the UK at the time of the ceremony; for the UK, climate change minister Lord Bourne will attend.
For President Obama, an added motivation for a quick ratification is that, if the agreement comes into effect before he leaves office, a new President would not be able to withdraw from the agreement for at least four years.
The two leading Republican presidential contenders, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have both expressed scepticism about climate change.