Delegates from across the planet gathered in New York on Friday to sign the historic Paris Climate Agreement, a date which suitably coincided with the 46th Earth Day . The president of France, Francois Hollande, was the first of the at least 175 nations to sign the agreement, creating a new record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on the first day possible.
While the Foreign Minister of North Korea made a rare appearance to sign the document, a number of nations, primarily major oil producers, made no indication that they would be signing, including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and Nigeria. They, along with any other unsigned countries, will have a year to sign the deal.
While Friday’s signing is another major step forward for the agreement, it still requires that each signed nation ratify legislation in their own country to bring the deal into action. 15 countries, most of which are small island nations who are at the greatest risk from rising sea levels, had already ratified it domestically.
The deal will officially take effect once 55 countries who represent at least 55% of global emissions have ratified it at home. China, the world’s largest CO2 producer at 24%, announced that it intends to ratify the agreement before the G20 summit in September.
Many are also hoping the US, who are the second largest producer at 12%, ratify the agreement before President Obama leaves office in January. The fear is that if the Republican party takes office they will turn down the deal, which the US’s participation in made possible. However, if the US ratifies the deal before Obama leaves office it would take the next US leader at least 4 years to drop out of it.
Francois Hollande commented in his speech that the signing countries will have to do even more than pledges made in the deal, a statement that reflex the concern many have that it simply won’t do enough to prevent warming above 2 degrees C.