Nothing is more fitting for Earth Day than the overwhelming majority of countries coming together to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, which was hosted by the United Nations last year.
The agreement is the most successful accord to date on reducing the effect of climate change across the world. The Paris Agreement will support the expansion of renewable energy use like solar power while reducing carbon and other pollution. The U.N. hosted a signature ceremony Earth Day (April 22).
It is the first day countries are able to ratify it and the number of countries that plan to take action is incredibly high. Fully 171 out of the 195 countries around the world announced that they plan to sign the agreement. Only 55 states need to accept the agreement for it to go into forc, according to Santiago Villalpando of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. However, “Those 55 ratifications need to come from States that represent 55 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide,” he explained. Since the U.S. and China—the world’s biggest polluters (together producing roughly 40 percent of the world’s pollution)—are on board, meeting that threshold shouldn’t be too hard.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the accord at the U.N. headquarters in New York today with his granddaughter on his lap. “The agreement that we reached in Paris is the strongest, most ambitious global climate pact ever negotiated,” Kerry remarked. “But the power of this agreement is not that it, in and of itself, guarantees that we will actually hold the increase of temperature to the target of 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees centigrade. In fact, it does not and we know that, we acknowledge it. The power of this agreement is the opportunity that it creates.”
“The power is the message that it sends to the marketplace,” Kerry continued. “It is the unmistakable signal that innovation, entrepreneurial activity, the allocation of capital, the decisions that governments make, all of this is what we now know definitively is what is going to define the new energy future—a future that is already being defined but even yet to be discovered. The power of this agreement is what it is going to do to unleash the private sector, and it is already doing to set in pace the global economy on a new path for smart, responsible, sustainable development.”
Environmental advocates also hailed the signing. “Secretary Kerry importantly reminded us that leadership from governments, cities and companies is needed to realize the potential of the Paris Agreement,” stated the World Wildlife Fund’s Vice President of Climate Change Lou Leonard. “Climate apathy is now officially in the rearview and the momentum from Paris remains strong. After today’s signing ceremony, governments need to quickly take the last steps to bring the Paris Agreement into force and get down to business meeting and beating their commitments.”Tweet