A SYM­BOLIC VIC­TORY

Qatar Today - - GREEN > VIEWPOINT -

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 post-COP21

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.

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