In December of 2015, nearly 200 nations came together during the COP21 climate summit in Paris to agree to a radical reversal in dangerous the carbon emissions that have been bolstering rapid climate change. The agreement promised to keep temperatures from rising over 2°C in the coming decades, through a strict and steady shift towards renewable energy. On April 22, 2016, these countries will sign the agreement-- and possibly, tip it into action ahead of schedule.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-mon will host an signing event at the United Nations in New York City, with over 130 countries expected in attendance. In addition to French President Francois Hollande, other high-level guests will include COP21 President Segolene Royal, and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secratary of the UNFCCC.
The move is significant, because it will launch positive climate control ahead of schedule. The original Paris agreement featured no outline for when the pollution-reducing pact must come into effect, and offered no ramifications for countries which failed to uphold their pledge. However, the COP21 agreement stipulated that 30 days after countries accounting for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified and accepted the Convention in their own countries, through their own governments, it must come into effect for all countries that sign the Paris Agreement at the April 22nd ceremony.
With 130 nations in attendance, it will be the single largest amount of signatures to be collected on any action on its first day in the UN. Among those signing include the United States and China, whose combined greenhouse gas emissions equal nearly 40% of the worldwide total.
The move is momentous, as it brings the world closer to clean energy.
The Obama Administration, after signing, has the Executive power to ratify the motion right away-- a desirable outcome ahead of the US Presidential elections. With Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump both calling climate change false, and Trump additionally pledging to cut support to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Obama Administration could curtail a default on the COP21 agreement by any elected Republican President by ratifying the convention into 2016. This would ensure that the US would nominally have to keep to the agreement for four years-- a single Presidency term.
In addition to the US, Chinese President Xi Jinping surprised the world when he announced that his country would sign and ratify the convention in 2016.
With the US and China looking likely to join forces in 2016, it would take only a few other countries to have the agreement "enter into force"-- India (4.1% of all emissions), Russia (7.5% of all emissions), or the rest of the BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China) would make strong candidates.
In line with the standards set by COP21, countries have been mobilizing in other ways. This year, investments into green energy broke records at $286 billion, according to the UN. Both the US and Canada have entered into an agreement to cut down on pollution, and Scotland has recently banned the use of coal, one of the messiest sources of energy.
The signing ceremony will take place on Earth Day, 2016, and the UN is asking people worldwide to participate by planting a tree for the #Trees4Earth campaign.
TheToolbox.org looks forward to reporting from you from the UN's Digital Media Zone during the signing ceremony.