Paris deal signature approaching amid leadership reshuffle announcements

The high-level signature ceremony will be held in New York on April 22. It will provide the first opportunity for countries to advance the process towards the Agreement’s implementation and ratification, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during a recent briefing at UN headquarters.

The UN chief urged the participation of all governments at the signing ceremony and emphasized the importance of the Agreement entering into force as soon as possible.

“Our task is not over. In fact, it has just begun,” Mr. Ban said. “In 2016, we must go from words to deeds. The 22 April signature ceremony is an essential step” he noted.

Fiji would become the first country to formally approve the climate deal after the parliament unanimously agreed to ratify the Paris agreement ahead of the signing ceremony, BusinessGreen reported last week.

With the aim of clearing doubts after earlier this month the US Supreme Court decided to postpone the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, US climate envoy Todd Stern said United States will sign the Paris Agreement this year. Speaking in Brussels during his official European tour, Stern added that Obama’s successor, even if it is a Republican, would be unlikely to scrap the Paris deal as to do so would have negative diplomatic implications, Reuters reports.

To enter into force the Agreement needs to be ratified by at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global GHG emissions.

In the next months the delicate process to bring the Paris deal from announcements to implementation (including the key COP22 planned in Morocco in November this year) will be guided by a new leadership after recent announcements of UN climate change officials.

In a letter to governments and observers, Christiana Figueres officially announced the decision to not extend her appointment as Executive Secretary of UNFCCC after the end of her term in July, ending a six-year mandate that culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

Her successor is likely to come from a developed nation, Reuters reports.

French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea Ségolène Royal replaced Laurent Fabius at the presidency of UN climate talks until the next annual climate conference in Marrakesh.

It is her first visit to the UNFCCC secretariat on Monday (Feb. 22) Royal underlined the need for continued momentum to build on the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Former French Foreign Minister Fabius decided to leave his position after being appointed as head the country’s top constitutional court.

On Friday (Feb. 19) the Green Climate Fund announced that also the body’s executive director Héla Cheikhrouhou will step down in September 2016, at the end of her current three-years term. The Fund’s Board will discuss next steps to appoint a successor during the upcoming meeting in early March.


(Image: François Hollande, President of France; Laurent Fabius, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France and President of COP21; Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. Presentation of Draft Outcome Document, COP21, Paris, 12 December 2015. Photo credit: United Nations Photo/Flickr)