The Paris Agreement: more than 150 countries sign on World Earth Day

April 22, 2016

In association with the Climate Action Network and other CSOs.

Update: In an extraordinary show of support for the Paris Climate Change Agreement adopted last December, 175 Parties (174 countries and the European Union) signed up to it at a ceremony today – World Earth Day – at UN Headquarters. This far exceeded the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement. Undersecretary Sharon Dijksma (Infrastructure and Environment) of the Netherlands signed it as President of the EU on behalf of the 28 member states.

Over the last year, events such as record-breaking global temperatures, deadly heatwaves in India, drought in southern Africa and record-breaking cyclones in the Pacific have significantly deepened global concern about climate change. These climate impacts together with multiple calls for action from faith leaders, international organisations (including Hivos) and citizens from around the world contributed enormously to governments’ will to sign the agreement.

By signing the Paris Agreement, governments agree to align their national climate and development plans in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This includes a transition to 100 percent renewable energy and abandoning fossil fuel subsidies by all G20 countries. Moreover, developed countries must provide 100 USD billion a year to support this transition and to boost resilience and development in climate vulnerable and poor communities. Environmental and developmental impact go hand in hand, and climate finance should target both.

According to Eco Matser, Global Coordinator of Climate, Energy and Development at Hivos, signing the agreement should force governments to finally take real action. “It is positive to see increasing support for climate action and momentum building behind the Paris Agreement, but now governments have to roll up their sleeves and get to work aligning national climate and development policies with the 1.5C degree warming threshold. This requires a swift and just transition from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy, as well as concerted efforts to bolster the global climate treaty itself and to support developing countries to reach inclusive and sustainable development.”

At the 2015 Paris Climate Change conference (COP21) where the terms of today’s agreement were hammered out, Hivos focussed on sustainable food and renewable energy as critical elements for sustainable development and climate change reduction. In particular, we addressed how to scale up investments in clean cooking solutions and showcased evidence that climate finance can deliver on both climate and poverty reduction goals by increasing access to renewable energy for the poor.

Some countries like Indonesia and Argentina are already implementing more ambition into their national climate action plans (NDCs), while others, including France, India and Morocco, have been busy developing and deploying large-scale renewable energy projects.

Hivos will continue to work with the Dutch government in increasing access to renewable energy in the Global South and supporting green and inclusive development. We will also continue urging the Dutch government to speed up implementation of the Paris Agreement in The Netherlands itself, condemning the opening of the new  coal fired power plant in Eemshaven, welcoming the possible closure of two of them, and pushing to increase the availability of renewable energy in the country.

Photo by Chantal Bekker of Greenpeace: the Climate parade in Amsterdam on 29 November 2015