The Paris Agreement on climate change will enter into force on November 4 as enough countries have signed onto the landmark accord to bring it to the emissions threshold that will trigger its implementation, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said.

"This is a momentous occasion," Secretary-General said after the deal was ratified by 72 countries accounting for more than 56 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

"Global momentum for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2016 has been remarkable. What once seemed unthinkable is now unstoppable. Strong international support for the Paris Agreement entering into force is a testament to the urgency for action, and reflects the consensus of governments that robust global cooperation, grounded in national action, is essential to meet the climate challenge," he added.

India, the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases,  had ratified the Paris climate agreement on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary on October 2, becoming the 62nd country to deposit its legal instrument of ratification for the climate pact and bringing the global pact "tantalisingly" close to entering into force.

Ban had "warmly" congratulated India for ratifying and formally joining the Paris Agreement, and had said India's leadership moves the world an important step closer toward the 55 per cent threshold needed for the historic agreement's entry into force this year.

India accounts for 4.1 per cent of the emissions and after it joined the agreement, the Paris pact had needed slightly more than three percentage points to reach the 55 per cent threshold to enter into force.

The requirements for entry into force were satisfied yesterday when Austria, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Nepal, Portugal and Slovakia, as well as the European Union, deposited their instruments of ratification with the Secretary-General.

"Now we must move from words to deeds and put Paris into action. We need all hands on deck - every part of society must be mobilised to reduce emissions and help communities adapt to inevitable climate impacts," he stressed.

"I urge all governments and all sectors of society to implement the Paris Agreement in full and to take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and support the most vulnerable in adapting to inevitable climate impacts," he said.

The road ahead

Work will start at UN climate talks in Morocco next month to hammer out the rules for putting the accord into practice. The Paris climate deal will enter into force in time for the Climate Conference (CoP 22) in Morocco in November, where countries will convene the first Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement. Countries that have not yet joined may participate as observers. The UN Chief, however, cautioned that the work of implementing the agreement still lay ahead.

The aim: Tackling climate change
  • The agreement calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future, and to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change
  • Adopted in Paris by the 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at a conference known as COP21 last December, it seeks to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and to strive for 1.5°C
  • The agreement calls for appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity-building framework to support action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries in line with their own national objectives
  • Enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework, are also among the key aims. It also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change

Source: October 7, 2016, The Tribune