With their signatures of the landmark Paris climate accord, “governments made a covenant with the future,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the end of a United Nations ceremony that saw the largest single-day turn-out for such an event, and which puts the world on a path towards low-carbon growth and a more sustainable future.
Yet, while today’s signing is a “vote of confidence” in a new approach to climate change, it is imperative that the strong political momentum continues to grow, the UN chief stressed, in concluding remarks to the day-long Ceremony for the Paris Agreement.
Indeed, if all of the countries signing today joined the Paris Agreement at the national level, the world will have met the legal requirement for the Agreement to enter into force – 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse emissions. In particular, he was pleased to hear several large emitter countries announce that they will ratify in 2016.
“I encourage all countries to raise their level of ambition,” Mr. Ban said. “I urge world leaders to continue to provide direct political oversight and guidance. And I will look to civil society and the world’s young people to hold Governments to account for the promises they made today,” he added.
While it has been a long journey to get to the present moment, the UN chief stressed that a long journey also awaits Member States.
“When I look out at the horizon, I see, more clearly than ever, the outlines of a new and better world,” the UN chief said.
In that regard, Mr. Ban reminded Member States that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a “major step forward” for people and the planet.
Mr. Ban also introduced Getrude Clement, 16-year-old radio reporter from Tanzania and a UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) youth climate mapper, who focused on why climate action is crucial for children.
They, she said, would feel its effects most acutely. “We expect action, action on a big scale, and we expect action today, not tomorrow,” she emphasized. “The future is ours, and the future is bright.”