Q: What will happen on 21 September?

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a special event entitled “High-Level Event on Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change” on 21 September at the UN Headquarters in New York for the deposit of instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

This high-level event will provide an opportunity to any country to publicly commit to join the Paris Agreement on 21 September or by the end of the year.

In his invitation to world leaders, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “The next step in our collective journey to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future is to ensure the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement.”

Q: What is required for the Paris Agreement to enter into force?

Article 21, paragraph 1, of the Paris Agreement, the Agreement will enter into force 30 days after the date on which at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval with the UN Secretary-General.    A schedule containing the greenhouse gas emissions, for the purpose of ascertaining the threshold, can be found at http://unfccc.int/files/paris_agreement/application/pdf/10e.pdf

Q: How many countries have joined the Paris Agreement so far?

With China and the United States formally joining the Paris Agreement early September, a total of 28 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement as of 9 September, accounting for 39.08 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

As of 9 September 2016, 28 countries that have deposited an instrument to the Secretary-General are: Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cameroon, China, Cook Islands, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Nauru, Norway, Palau, Peru, Samoa, Seychelles, Somalia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, State of Palestine, Tuvalu, United States of America.

Q: When will the Paris Agreement enter into force?

The Paris Agreement will enter into force 30 days after the two thresholds are met.  However, it is expected that the high-level event on 21 September will encourage countries to commit joining the Agreement by the end of 2016.

Q: What is the difference between ratification, acceptance and approval?

After signing of the Paris Agreement, countries then formally join the Paris Agreement. This can be done by depositing one of the three types of instruments—ratification, acceptance or approval—with the UN Secretary-General.

The nature of domestic approval system depends on each country’s national constitution and regulatory framework. When a country fulfills its required domestic legal procedures, it can deposit its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval to the Secretary-General, indicating its consent to be bound by the Paris Agreement.

Q: Why does the Paris Agreement set a double threshold for entry into force?

Along with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement forms part of a new and universal vision for a sustainable future.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming well below 2 degree Celsius and as close to 1.5 degree Celsius as possible, to increase economic and social ability to adapt to extreme climate, and to direct the scale and speed of global financial flows to match the required path to very low-emission, climate-resilient development.

To this end, the Paris Agreement requires not only joining from as many countries as possible but also ambitious commitment from major emitters of greenhouse effect gases, such as China, the United States of America, Russia, India, Japan and Germany which account for over 55 per cent of the total emission.

As such, the Agreement will enter into force 30 days after the date on which at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval with the UN Secretary-General.

Q: What are the most significant aspects about the new agreement?

The agreement provides a pathway forward to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, maybe even 1.5.  The agreement provides a mechanism to increase the level of ambition.

The Paris Agreement is an ambitious, dynamic and universal agreement.  It covers all countries and all emissions, and is designed to last.  This is a monumental agreement. It solidifies international cooperation for climate change. It provides a way forward.

The Paris Agreement sends a powerful signal to markets that now is the time to invest in the low emission economy. It contains a transparency framework to build mutual trust and confidence.

It will serve as an important tool in mobilizing finance technological support and capacity building for developing countries. And it will also help to scale up global efforts to address and minimize loss and damage from climate change.

Paris is a beginning—we now have to implement the Agreement. But we have taken a giant step forward.

The adoption of the Agreement sends a message to the world that countries are serious about addressing climate change. It is a remarkable triumph that the 196 parties to the Convention have reached this agreement.

Q: Is this agreement really going to help?

Yes. There is no question that the world will be much better off because of this agreement. The agreement will help move us toward a more sustainable future.

The agreement is ambitious and it provides all the tools we need to address climate change, for reducing emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The proof will be in the implementation.

Q: What does the agreement require countries to do?

The agreement requires all countries to take action, while recognizing their differing situations and circumstances.  Under the Agreement, countries are responsible for taking action on both mitigation and adaptation.

Countries officially submitted their own nationally determined climate actions. They have an obligation to implement these plans, and if they do, it will bend the curve downward in the projected global temperature rise.

The agreement not only formalizes the process of developing national plans, but also it provides a binding requirement to assess and review progress on these plans. This mechanism will require countries to continuously upgrade their commitments and ensure that there will be no backtracking.

This agreement is a clarion call from governments that they are ready for implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Q: What happens if a country doesn’t live up to its commitments?  Would there be any enforcement?

Countries have every reason to comply with the terms of the Agreement. It is in their interest to implement the agreement, not only in terms of achieving the benefits of taking climate action, but also to show global solidarity.

There is no benefit to flouting the Agreement. Any short-term time gain will be short-lived.  It will undoubtedly be overshadowed by negative reactions, by other countries, financial markets, and most important, by their citizens.

Q: The agreement doesn’t take effect until 2020. What happens until then?

Implementation begins tomorrow. To begin implementing post-2020 climate plans, countries will need to mobilize resources—including the $100 billion pledged by developed countries– and making investments in a low-carbon direction.

Countries agreed in Paris to take vigorous action to promote climate action, ramp up financing and begin implementation of their climate plans. Countries will have an opportunity, as part of a collective review in 2018, to update these plans.

We need to integrate climate action with the implementation efforts for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, as the actions for one are necessary and vital for progress on the other.

Q: Is this agreement legally binding?

The Paris Agreement is a legal instrument that will guide the process for universally acting on climate change.  It is a hybrid of legally binding and nonbinding provisions.

The Agreement consists of a core agreement that governs the international process will be binding on parties, while there are elements that are not part of the legally binding agreement.  These parts, such as the intended nationally determined contributions, may be binding at the national level.

Q: Developing countries stressed the need for equity and fairness.  Does the Agreement provide that?

Yes.  The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is reflected in this Agreement.  There is clearly a duty on all parties to take climate action, according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, in the light of different national circumstances.

Q: Have all countries submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions?

186 countries submitted their INDCs prior to the Paris Conference and two submitted their INDCs on the last night of the Conference.  It shows very broad engagement in the process.

Q: How can Paris get us to the 2 degree—or even 1.5 degree goal?

The Paris agreement helps us to avoid locking in a level of ambition that would make the well below 2 degrees goal improbable. In 2018 countries will have an opportunity to review their collective effort against the global goals prior to formally submitting their national contributions to the new agreement. This exercise will be repeated every five years.

We have an agreement and we have a chance now to reach our goal.  We couldn”t say that without an agreement. The Paris Agreement will  put us on a pathway to achieve the 2 degree goal or less.  We did not expect to leave Paris with commitments to reach that goal, but rather, with a process that will get us there. And that is what the Agreement provides.

The fact that 188 countries representing close to 100 percent of global emissions submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions is very encouraging. It shows that countries see Paris as the first stop in a process and are fully engaged in getting where we need to go.

 Q:  How are climate change and the Paris Agreement linked with the Sustainable Development Goals?

A strong climate agreement backed by action on the ground will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, build stronger economies and safer, healthier, and more liveable societies everywhere.  There are 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that directly involve taking action on climate change– in addition to climate change having its own goal.

The Paris Conference will feature new climate action announcements that will demonstrate how civil society and the private sector are moving forward to address climate change.

The Lima to Paris Action Agenda, which produced hundreds of new commitments and initiatives, has shown that the actions needed to address climate change are the same as for the Sustainable Development Agenda.

 Q: Why is it so urgent that we do something now?

The world has warmed before, but never this quickly, and it is due to human activities. For instance, the changes in the Arctic between just six years ago and now are shocking.

We can limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees if we take action now. We need all countries and all sectors of society to act now—it is in the interests of everyone.

It is doable. Taking climate action now makes good economic sense. The more we delay, the more we pay. We can promote economic growth, eradicate extreme poverty, and improve people’s health and well-being by acting today.

Q: Is loss and damage sufficiently addressed in the Paris Agreement?

Parties have agreed here in Paris on a process to determine what approaches and arrangements are needed to best address the needs of those countries and communities who have contributed least but are impacted most from climate change.