Paris signed, what’s next?

Paris COP21 agreement

At the North Pole, the temperature is so high that the mass of sea ice is much smaller than normal. In many places, the Greenland ice is covered with a layer of water. Fortunately, the United States and China are the major drivers behind the Paris agreement.

The Paris COP21 agreements have been signed by 160 countries. 

This many signatures in one day have been a record for an international UN document.

The treaty aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, which gives it a symbolic boost.

This is needed because the last few months, climate changing has again assert worldwide.

Paris Convention

For most of the countries, the real work starts now: they have to ratify the Convention in their own government. In every country this process is different. Sometimes the signature of the president is sufficient, sometimes it takes a majority of the parliament.

The agreement is valid once 55 states have joined, which together accounts for at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States and China, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (together 38%) are now the major drivers. President Obama and president Xi promised to ratify ‘Paris’ this year, and they asked the rest of the world to do the same. A big difference with the Kyoto Protocol, the climate agreement from 1997, which was signed by the Americans but never have been ratified because the US Congress blocked it.


Now Obama hopes he has addressed the ratification smarter. He has become more aware of climate change issues, and sees the agreement as one of his great legacies.

The Paris Agreement is formulated in a way that Obama doesn’t need the permission of the Congress. “Because it includes no reduction commitments and no sanctions. The agreement is not a treaty and therefore does not have to be approved by the Senate,” confirmed the Minister of Foreign Affairs John Kerry last year.

A senior official of the ministry confirms this. He mentioned the adjournments of Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which was already approved by the US representatives. It says that America “must take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The Paris climate agreement is the following up according to the ministry. This one only needs a suffice signature.

Yet that is the question

Obama’s solo performance as president has been challenged in any way possible. His policies to reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired plants, has been challenged by dozens of states; the US Supreme Court has frozen this policy, pending a court ruling. Also ‘Paris’ may be challenged to the highest courts.

Anyway, the countries have ratified the agreement with their signature.

  • Switzerland, Fiji, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives adopted the agreement in their parliaments. They were the first countries that ratified.
  • For another endangered archipelago, Tuvalu, the ceremony itself applies as ratification.

It is no coincidence that these countries are the pioneers: they are the first countries that feel the impact, because of the rising sea levels and melting glaciers.

Temperature records

March 2016 was the eleventh month in a row that broke global temperature records. While this is partly due to the weather phenomenon El Niño, it was significantly warmer than last Christmas.

At the North Pole, the temperature is so high that the mass of sea ice is much smaller than normal. In many places, the Greenland ice is covered with a layer of water.


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