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May 6, 2021

There is more to Paris Climate Change Pact than just Adopting an Agreement

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The Paris Climate Change (COP21) talks held last year in December 12 saw world leaders adopt an agreement to lower global warming by at least 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The agreement is set to take place by the year 2020.

However, the Paris Agreement will not be enforced unless at least 55 parties representing 55 per cent of global emissions join the pact.

Since the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, to date, only 22 countries have ratified the agreement; these countries however, represent only about 1 per cent of global emissions – most of whom are the developing island nations who are already dealing with the effects of global warming.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has called upon other nations to join the agreement, urging especially the big contributors of fossil fuels like the US, China and Argentina.

What is the difference between adopting, signing and joining the Paris Agreement?

Adopting, signing and joining are the three different stages of getting an agreement into place. Like most other international agreements, the Paris Agreement would have to follow this procedure.

According to the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties, (the body of rules which govern what is a treaty, how it is made and brought into force, amended, terminated, and generally operates), the three stages listed below are the governing rules to implementing an international agreement.

1. Adopting the Agreement

Adopting an agreement is the formal step. When parties adopted the Paris Agreement, they agreed to the text of the Paris Agreement signalling their intention to launch the domestic processes for the ratification or acceptance of the agreement.

2. Signing the Agreement

The next step is to sign the agreement– this is important for indicating a commitment by a country to refrain from acts that would contradict the purpose and object of the agreement.
The Paris Agreement is currently open for signing until April 21, 2017.

3. Joining the Agreement

The final procedure of an international agreement is ‘joining the agreement’ which is done by depositing one of the following instruments of:
• Ratification
• Acceptance or
• Approval

A country’s ability to join the agreement is conditional on obtaining the required domestic approval for joining the Agreement. The nature of this domestic approval depends on each individual country’s national constitution and legal framework. For one nation that might mean a parliamentary vote, while for another it might only involve action by a president and his or her government agencies.

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