More than 165 countries have indicated that they will sign the historic climate change agreement reached in Paris last December at a signature ceremony hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, 22 April.
The large number of countries will set a record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day, previously set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the Law of the Sea Convention.
All of the world’s largest economies, and the largest greenhouse gas emitters, have indicated that they will sign the agreement on Friday. The signing is the first step toward ensuring that the agreement enters into force as soon as possible. After signing, countries must take the further national (or domestic) step of accepting or ratifying the agreement.
The agreement can enter into force 30 days after at least 55 Parties to the UNFCCC, accounting for at least 55 per cent of global emissions, ratify the agreement.
There are 13 countries, mostly Small Island Developing States, that are expected to deposit their instruments of ratification immediately after signing the agreement on Friday.
Events for the Signature Ceremony:
Opening Ceremony—General Assembly Hall
The Opening Ceremony starts at 8:30 am and will include music from students of the Juilliard School and a short video bringing the “gavel moment” from Paris to the signature ceremony. It will include remarks by:
- Youth representative Getrude Clement, a 16-year-old radio reporter from Tanzania and climate advocate with UNICEF
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
- French President François Hollande
- President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft
- Statements from representative group of countries
- Business representative Anand Mahindra, Chief Executive Officer, Mahindra Group
- Civil society representative Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad
- Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change
Signature Ceremony: 9:50—1:00 pm General Assembly Hall
The signature ceremony is a legal formality. Only Heads of State or Government, foreign ministers, or other representatives with “formal powers” from their governments may sign the agreement.
There is only one original copy of the agreement—it contains the full text of the agreement in the six official languages of the United Nations—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. There is a page for each of the 197 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Each signer will sign the agreement while seated at a table on a specially constructed stage.
The President of France will begin the signing. Parties with special roles such as those who, in addition to signing, will deposit their instrument of ratification or acceptance of the Paris Agreement will be called at the beginning of the signing ceremony and will be invited to sign the Agreement first.
Following this, Parties that have indicated their intention to sign and have full powers will resume in order of protocol and alphabetically—for example, Presidents in alphabetical order of country, Vice-Presidents, Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, other Ministers and then Permanent Representatives.
After signing the agreement, the signers will be greeted by the Secretary-General or the UN Legal Counsel, Under Secretary-General for the Office of Legal Affairs.
National Statements: ECOSOC and Trusteeship Chambers
After signing the agreement, leaders will proceed to either the ECOSOC or Trusteeship Council chambers to deliver their national statements.
The Secretary-General has asked countries to address four topics:
- to provide an update on how their governments will implement their national climate plans and integrate them into their overall sustainable development plans;
- to provide a roadmap for increasing ambition over time to achieve the overall aim of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, strive for below 1.5 degrees Celsius;
- to indicate their governments’ timetable for ratifying the Paris Agreement;
- to share how they are accelerating climate action before 2020 by drawing on the ingenuity, resources and efforts of all sectors of society.
Statements will be available at:
Luncheon: Delegates Dining Room, by invitation only
The luncheon will focus on the scale and pace of market transformations that are required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Following welcome remarks by the Secretary-General and UN system officials, the event will provide an opportunity for non-state actors to showcase how investment flows are being gradually redirected toward a low carbon and resilient economy.
The full programme for the luncheon can be found here.
High-Level Event on Implementation —3:15-6:00 pm, Conference Room 1
Implementation of the national climate plans that are at the heart of the Paris Agreement will benefit from scaled up climate action by all actors at all levels, while directly contributing to progress on a full range of Sustainable Development Goals, including energy, water, food, transport and others. Strengthened action on climate change is not only possible, it is practical, beneficial and replicable on a larger scale.
This high-level event will focus on highlighting how all actors of society and economy can accelerate action, learn from each other, and replicate and scale successful initiatives and activities that will deliver the transformative implementation of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The session will be moderated by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and French Environment Minister and COP 21 President Ségolène Royal. The session will feature a link-up with the Solar Impulse aircraft that is attempting to be the first airplane to circumnavigate the world using only renewable energy.
The full programme for the session can be found here.
Closing Ceremony—General Assembly Hall, 6:00 pm
The Signature Ceremony will conclude with a short closing ceremony featuring the Secretary-General, along with statements by the past, present and future presidents of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC—Peru, France, and Morocco.
There will be a joint press conference by the Secretary-General and President François Hollande of France before the luncheon [exact time TBC]. There will also be press conferences by members of the business community and civil society, as well as by various Member States.
Press briefings will be held in room S-237 and will be webcast.
There will also be a stakeout position on the 3rd Floor, near the entrance to the General Assembly.
More information will be available from the Spokesman’s Office.
All parts of the Signature Ceremony will be webcast and can be seen at: webtv.un.org
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