SPECIAL COP22 – The unexpected early entry into force of the Paris deal

Less than one year has passed since the Paris Agreement was adopted at the Conference of the Parties in Paris 2015. Tomorrow, on November 4, the deal will enter into force after the double threshold has been crossed in the past months – just in time for the forthcoming COP22 in Marrakech in Morocco. As of now, 94 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, according to UNFCCC. This makes the Paris Agreement the international treaty with the fastest entry into force in recent years. How did this come about? In this article, we provide a short overview of the ratification process of the Paris Agreement.

On the Earth Day, April 22, the Paris Agreement opened for signature at a day-long special event at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Not only did 175 Parties sign the Paris Agreement that day, but also 15 countries – most of which small island states – already deposited their instruments of ratification.

On September 3, a major step was reached: the two largest GHG emitters in the world paved the way forward. At the G20 summit in Hangzhou, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that they had deposited their instruments of ratification.

Subsequently, two other emerging economies followed this example: Brazil officially validated the Paris Agreement on September 12. Moreover, India ratified on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. To that time, the first of two threshold for entry into force had already been crossed: after the ratification of 31 countries at a high-level event in New York on September 21 convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, more than 55 Parties fully joined the Paris Agreement.

On October 5, finally also the second threshold was reached as the ratifying countries passed the 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions requirement. After its fast-track ratification procedure, the European Union and several of its member states as well as Bolivia, Canada and Nepal submitted their documents of approval.

In line with the provisions in the Paris Agreement, it will thus enter into force four weeks later, on November 4. Among the Parties that have already joined there are big and small countries as well as rich and vulnerable countries, small island states, least developed countries and even one oil-exporting country. The fast ratification process and early entry-into-force shows willingness to tackle climate change in a cooperative way and to maintain the momentum built at the COP in Paris.


(Image: Eiffel Tower, December 2015. Photo Credit: Yann Caradec on Flickr)