Paris Agreement: Getting closer to “entering into force” this year

By October 7, 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions would need to ratify the Paris Agreement in order for it to enter into force before the November’s climate talks in Morocco. What’s the progress like so far?

plenary cop 21
Delegates from 195 countries at a plenary session during December's COP21 conference in Paris. About 20 countries have ratified the Agreement to date. Image: UNFCCC Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Over the past two months, Cameroon, Brazil, Iran and Ukraine took important steps domestically to formally join the Paris Agreement, following the 20 countries that have already done so (Peru joined on July 26).

If an additional 23 other nations follow through on their promises to join this year, countries representing about 54 percent of global emissions will have joined the Agreement, putting “entry into force” well within reach. The Paris Agreement takes effect once 55 Parties representing at least 55 percent of global emissions join.

What recent actions have countries taken to join the Paris Agreement?

Before countries officially join the Agreement by submitting their “instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval” to the UN Secretary General, they must complete whatever domestic approval processes are required by their national constitutions and laws. Cameroon, Brazil, Iran and Ukraine recently completed these steps:

  • Cameroon’s National Assembly approves ratification: On June 10th, members of Cameroon’s bicameral National Assembly adopted the bill authorizing the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, to join the Paris Agreement.

    Although Cameroon accounts for only 0.45 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, once it deposits its instrument of ratification, it would be the second African country to formally join the Agreement, following Somalia.
  • Brazil’s House of Representatives unanimously approves joining: The House of Representatives (the lower house of Brazil’s bicameral National Congress) unanimously approved the country joining the Paris Agreement on July 12th.

    Next, it will go to the Senate, where if approved by an absolute majority, it will take the form of a legislative decree. Legislative decrees are the last formal step required, but in accordance with custom it is likely a further Decree of Promulgation will be issued by Brazil’s Acting President Temer.

    This process could be completed this year, enabling Brazil to deposit its instrument of ratification and formally join the Paris Agreement. Brazil is the world’s seventh-largest emitter, and accounts for 2.48 percent of total global emissions.
  • Iran’s Cabinet of Ministers ratifies the Agreement: Iran’s Cabinet, headed by President Hassan Rouhani, ratified the Paris Agreement on July 13th and sent it for final approval to the Majles, Iran’s unicameral legislative body. 

    Once it receives the approval of the Maijles, the requisite instrument must be signed by the President and deposited with the UN. Iran accounts for 1.3 percent of total global emissions.
  • Ukraine adopts law to ratify: On July 14th, 279 members of Ukraine’s unicameral legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, voted to adopt a law ratifying the Paris Agreement. All that remains is for the country to deposit its instrument of ratification. Ukraine accounts for 1.04 percent of emissions.

Crossing the 55 per cent Threshold

Even with the addition of these four nations, as well as the 20 nations that already joined and the 23 that have publicly committed to join this year—including major emitters like China, United States, Mexico, Canada and Australia–the world would still be 1.05 percent short of the 55 percent threshold.

So where could the remainder come from?

In addition to those that have committed to join this year, a number of other large emitters have sent positive signals in national statements of their intent to join in a timely manner. These include India, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.

If a combination of these countries were to join this year, we would easily exceed the 55 percent of emissions needed for the Agreement to take effect. Explore theParis Agreement Tracker to identify different possible combinations to reach this threshold.

Furthermore, if the 55/55 threshold is reached by October 7th of this year, the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement would be held in conjunction with COP22 in Marrakech in November. Parties would then need to determine a process for adopting the key procedures and guidelines to implement the Paris Agreement.

Such rapid entry into force would continue the momentum created at Paris last year, help spur early implementation, and reinforce the global commitment to building a zero-carbon, climate-resilient future.

Eliza Northrop is an Associate in the International Climate Action Initiative, World Resources Institute. This post is republished from WRI’s Insights blog.

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