At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C. The landmark Paris agreement on climate change will enter into force on Nov. 4, after a coalition of the world’s largest polluters and small island nations threatened by rising seas pushed it past a key threshold on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama hailed the news as “a turning point for our planet,” and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the agreement’s strong international support a “testament for the urgency of action.” Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, called it: “A moment of bright hope in the increasingly discouraging landscape of climate science.”
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said late Wednesday that the European Union and 10 countries deposited their instruments of ratification. The percentage of emissions they account for topped the 55 percent threshold needed for the treaty to take effect, he said.
Haq said the 10 countries were Austria, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Nepal, Portugal and Slovakia.
“I am delighted to announce that today the Paris Agreement will cross the second and final threshold needed for entry into force, and will enter into force on 4 November 2016,” Ban said in a statement issued from Europe. “Global momentum for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2016 has been remarkable. What once seemed unthinkable is now unstoppable. “
The deal takes effect 30 days after 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions, have adopted it. Sixty-two countries had done so as of Tuesday but they accounted only for about 52 percent of emissions.
While the targets in the agreement are not legally binding, the treaty does require countries to report on emissions and their progress on reaching the goals in the national climate plans they submitted to the U.N. The countries are also required to maintain those plans, update them every five years and to pursue measures to implement their stated goals.