A SYMBOLIC VICTORY
PUTTING AN END TO WEEKS OF SPECULATION ABOUT WOULD THEY OR WOULDN'T THEY, QATAR SIGNED THE HISTORIC PARIS AGREEMENT. THIS IS JUST SYMBOLIC, THOUGH. WHAT REALLY MATTERS IS RATIFICATION.
More than 170 countries signed the Paris Agreement at the UN on April 22 as the landmark deal takes a key step toward entering into force years ahead of schedule. The signing of the accord is expected to set a record for international diplomacy; never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. States that haven't signed yet have a year to do so.
Under Article 21 of the agreement that was adopted on December 12 last year in Paris, after a marathon negotiation lasting 13 days, at least 55 countries accounting for an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions will have to ratify the agreement before it enters into force. Article 21 says that the Paris Agreement will enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which at least 55 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) deposit their “instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession” with the depositary at UN headquarters. The target date for the agreement to begin is 2020.
Qatar's Minister for Municipality and Environment HE Mohammed Al Rumaihi emphasized Qatar's commitment to the Paris Agreement, though there was no word on ratification. Signing the agreement is just symbolic. What really matters is ratification. Once they ratify the agreement, the signatory countries fulfil their obligations under it and are entitled to exercise any rights conferred by it.
A country's signature on the agreement initiates the critical domestic process, on which depends its final entry into force. This process takes many separate forms and can be short or long, depending on each country's domestic practices. The outcome may be countries' instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. Following each national completion of this process, instruments are submitted to the Depositary under the UN Secretary- General in New York. It is only once such an instrument is deposited that a country can be said to have ratified the Paris Agreement.
Paris Agreement and the road ahead
No one should have come away from the Paris talks expecting that the national commitments would be enough to keep global warming below two degrees, not to mention 1.5 degrees. However, the agreement commits countries to become more ambitious in their targets and sets out a process to achieve that. Every five years, starting in 2018, countries will take stock of their progress toward limiting the temperature increase to less than two degrees.
The United Nations had been trying for decades to get countries to agree on a framework for fighting climate change, which is a unique problem in that it requires the cooperation of polluters around the world. The Paris Agreement sets in motion a process for steep emissions cuts and it establishes the important goal of limiting warming to only 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Symbolically, the agreement shows something that never has been apparent before: The world is united on this issue. We finally are starting to recognize we have a moral responsibility to act
US Secretary of State John Kerry signs the book while holding his granddaughter during the signature ceremony for the Paris Agreement at the United Nations. At the event, Qatar was represented by HE Minister of Municipality and Environment Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi who signed the agreement.