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Climate Change Conference

Paris Agreement. 175 countries have signed

This year, Earth Day coincided with the signing ceremony for the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. 175 countries ratified it on 22 April.

Four months after COP21 in Paris, world leaders are called to put their pledges into act. Namely, they must ratify the Paris Agreement, reached after two weeks of negotiations in the French capital in December.

 

As of today, 22 April, the delegations of 195 countries that took part to the climate change conference can sign the document. During the first day, 175 countries did it. Symbolically, the signing ceremony coincides with Earth Day: “International Mother Earth Day has an even more important meaning after COP21,” said Italian Minister for the Environment Gian Luca Galletti.

China and the US are ready to sign

According to French Minister for Ecology Ségolène Royal, 160 countries are ready to officially sign the agreement. In particular, China’s delegation – represented by vice president Zhang Gaoli, and the United States’, led by State Secreatry John Kerry. Both countries are responsible for the major part of emissions emitted globally.

 

However, the Paris Agreement can be signed until April 2017: some governments could thus take advantage to “play for time”. According to Eliza Northrop of the World Resources Institute, “the agreement will be definitively adopted when it will be approved on a national level”. This means that each country needs to implement changes in order to make the document binding and in effect.

 

Palazzo di Vetro Nazioni Unite Onu
UN headquarters in New York © Andrew Burton/Getty Images

“The Paris Agreement is not a magic wand”

However, there are preconditions for a majority of nations committing to it. The aim of French diplomacy is making the Paris Agreement operational by 2017 or early 2018 at most. NGOs follow suit: Célia Gautier of the Réseau Action Climat said that “countries must carry out rapid energy shifts, reorienting their investments,” if they want to meet the COP21 objectives.

 

Therefore, countries like India, Turkey and Indonesia, which have built dozens of coal plants, will have to reconsider their choices. If projects are halted, “the Paris Agreement won’t be enough: it’s not a magic wand,” concluded Gautier.

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