UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday marked the entry into force of the Paris Agreement with a call for strong action on climate change to realise the potential of the landmark agreement.
Meeting with civil society representatives in New York, the Secretary-General said, “I ask each and every one of you to keep up the fight. Hold governments accountable and press for action.”
“Today we make history in humankind’s efforts to combat climate change. Now is the time to strengthen global resolve, do what science demands and seize the opportunity to build a safer, more sustainable world for all.”
Members of civil society, representing a range of organisations working around the world, including in Egypt, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Guatemala, told the Secretary-General that they were committed to carrying on efforts to reduce emissions and to focus on the needs of people.
The Agreement provides that it shall enter into force 30 days after 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or accession with the Secretary-General. Those conditions were met on 5 October, triggering today’s entry into force.
There are now 98 parties to the Paris Agreement, with Gabon, Indonesia, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Viet Nam among the latest to join.
“At a time of record heat, Member States embraced this new global agreement in record time,” Mr. Ban told civil society leaders at an event marking the Agreement’s entry into force. “It is a credit to all of you. And it is historic for the world.
“Today we celebrate, reflect and give thanks. I am deeply grateful to all of you and your organisations – representing millions of people. At a time when civil society is under attack in so many parts of the world, you have shown that citizens’ groups are essential partners for progress. Your vision, courage, persistence and leadership made this day happen.
“We marched shoulder-to-shoulder in 2014 before the Climate Summit I convened. Millions of others held climate marches around the world. You showed the climate challenge stakes – and the solutions. You mobilised hundreds of millions of people for the cause.”
The Agreement will now enter into force in time for the Marrakech Climate Conference (COP 22) that begins in Morocco on 7 November, where the first Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement will open on 15 November.
Countries have been joining the agreement at a steady pace. There were 15 countries that formally joined the Agreement on 22 April, the day the Agreement opened for signatures, and then 31 countries which joined at a special event at the UN on 21 September during the General Assembly high-level week. In early September, the world’s two largest emitters, China and the United States, joined the Agreement, providing the impetus for other countries to quickly complete their domestic ratification or approval processes.
The Secretary-General cautioned that time is short while global temperatures continue to rise. “We remain in a race against time. But with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world has the plans we need to make the shift to a low-emission, climate-resilient path. Now is the time to strengthen global resolve, do what science demands and seize the opportunity to build a safer, more sustainable world for all.”
He added, “We are the first generation to really feel the effects of climate change – and the last that can prevent its worst consequences. Today shows us what is possible when we join forces for our common future.”