UN banking on record support at Paris climate deal signing

Officials hope strong show of support will drive momentum behind global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a year expected to be warmest in history

Extreme poverty was cut in half by 2010 on 1990s levels, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (photo: UN)

(UN Photos)

By Ed King

The UN hopes to break a 34-year-old record for the most signatures on the first day a treaty is opened for approval when the Paris Agreement is presented to countries on 22 April.

On 10 December 1982 UN records relate 119 countries signed the Law of the Sea after nine years of negotiations. 166 countries including the European Union are now members.

“Our hope is to exceed the record,” said the UN climate body’s strategy director Halldór Thorgeirsson. 55 countries representing 55% of emissions are needed to “trigger” the agreement.

A UN spokesperson in New York told Climate Home all 195 countries who agreed to the Paris deal in December 2015 have been formally invited, although many are expected to confirm nearer the time.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, France environment minister Segolene Royal and outgoing UN climate chief Christiana Figueres will all be present for the ceremony, together with business and civil society leaders.

Ban’s climate advisor Selwin Hart told reporters in New York “many” heads of state are expected to attend, including France president Francois Hollande and Canada prime minister Justin Trudeau.

It’s understood UK prime minister David Cameron will send a minister in his place, while US president Barack Obama is also a doubt say officials, as he is scheduled to be out of the country.

In a statement to mark World Meteorological Day Ban – who leaves his post at the end of this year – warned governments their window for action was closing fast.

“Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise.  So, too, does the temperature of oceans and land,” he said.

“Climate change is accelerating at an alarming rate.  The window of opportunity for limiting global temperature rise to well below 2C — the threshold agreed by world Governments in Paris in December last year — is narrow and rapidly shrinking.”

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