Ghana, 170 Countries Sign Paris Agreement On Climate Change

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Ghana and 170 other countries on April 22, 2016 made history with the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Described as by far the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day, it sets the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to “well below” two degreesCelsius above preindustrial levels. It alsobinds countries to the promises they made to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, Ms. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh signed for Ghana, whilst that of the other countries were signed by either their heads of government or high ranking officials.

The event which took place on World Earth Day, has given effect to the text of the Paris Agreement which was negotiated and adopted on December 12, last year by195 countries without objection. This means the world is required to get off fossil fuels this century.

In his remarks before the signatures at the High-level event on promoting the early entry into force of the agreement, the Secretary General, Mr. Ban KI-Moon said that the adoption of the agreement last December showed that the countries had embraced the spirit of multilateralism and showed how to work together to meet a common threat, which is the climate change.

An emotion-filled Secretary General said “this is a very moving day for me personally. I am touched to see so much support and political momentum to move the Agreement forward. I thank all the world leaders who have come here to show their support.

“I also welcome the strong presence of the private sector and civil society, who are crucial to realizing the great promise of the Paris Agreement. The participation by so many countries today, and the attendance by so many world leaders, leaves no doubt that the world is determined to take action on the climate”, he stated.

The next critical step, Mr. Ban KI-Moon indicated was to ensure that the Agreement enters into force as soon as possible, pointing out that “if all the countries that have signed today take the next step at the national level and join the Agreement, the world will have met the requirement needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force. I encourage all countries to move forward to join the Agreement. In particular, I call on the countries gathered here today to use this opportunity to announce a timeline for joining the Agreement without delay”.

He announced that in two weeks, the UN will co-host Climate Action 2016 in Washington D.C. This will be another opportunity to move the climate agenda forward and bring together leaders and experts from many fields, including government, business, civil society and academia, saying that “Paris sent a clear message that the world is ready to move in a new direction – a path of low-carbon growth and prosperity”.

The well-being of our common future and our common home depend on it.

Implementation of the Paris Agreement gives us a chance to be on the right side of history and change. That starts with the historic support we have seen today here at the United Nations.

The signing ceremony which ended exactly at 1.24pm was greeted with a lot of cheers. It broke the existing international agreement record set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the Law of the Sea Convention.

By: Harry Reynolds

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