UN heavyweights call for Paris ratification by end of year

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and COP21 President Ségolène Royal have all called on the world's governments to "turn aspirations into urgent implementation" by ratifying the Paris Agreement ahead of the COP22 climate talks at the end of the year.

Speaking via video link at the Business and Climate Summit at London’s Guildhall on Tuesday (28 June), Ki-moon called on businesses to drive government ambitions on climate change by building resilience and setting carbon prices, as a means to encourage countries to officially ratify the Paris Agreement before the COP22 talks, which will take place at Marrakech in Morocco in November.

The signing of the historic Paris agreement and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals has created more opportunities than ever,” Ki-moon told delegates. “It’s time to turn our aspirations into urgent implementation. I have called on all nations to ratify the Paris Agreement to make it an entry into force before the end of the year.

“To meet our goals, we need 100% implementation from businesses around the world. Through initiatives such as the UN Global Compact many companies are taking on the challenge of pricing carbon, setting targets and building resilience. I urge all of you to champion these efforts. Your leadership is essential to building a sustainable future.”

The Paris Agreement was signed by 175 countries in New York in April, but in order for the deal to actually take effect, 55 countries – representing 55% of global emissions – need to ratify it. So far, 18 countries, including France, have ratified the deal and, despite murmurs of a boycott, more major nations seem to be accelerating efforts to ratify the deal.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Figueres – who also this week claimed that the UK would rally behind climate action in the wake of Brexit – told delegates at the Business and Climate Summit that the Paris Agreement is gathering pace as it approaches the crucial “double threshold” of both emissions percentages and number of countries ratified.

“We may be able to meet the double threshold before the end of the year,” Figueres said. “Fundamentally, this means that the low-carbon transition is completely unstoppable and that we’ll do this in collaboration with each other because it’s clear that no one can do it alone. It’s not easy but it’s the way we’ll have to face many other global issues this century.

“178 countries have already signed the agreement and 18 have ratified and we do know that the US and China will come in – with rumblings that India may come in under certain conditions  – within this year, while middle income countries have signalled that they will be able to ratify.”

Carbon Price

The US and China collectively represent around 38% of global emissions and would provide a huge boost to efforts to meet the 55% target. With a new roadmap established to help developing countries rapidly cut emissions before COP22, all eyes are turning to European countries to ratify the deal.

Later at the Summit, Royal – the COP21 President and co-chair of the Carbon Price Leadership Coalition (CPLC) – urged European Countries to follow the example set by her home nation of France in not only ratifying the agreement but also adopting a national carbon price.

“I know [getting to 55 countries] will be difficult but we can do it,” Royal said. “France ratified on 9 June and the EU has set itself in motion. The European Parliament will examine the proposal for ratification. Our aim is for the Council of Ministers to adopt it before COP22 in Marrakech.

“I have proposed the introduction of a price corridor at European level to drive upwards the European price of carbon. I have also proposed at the Ministers Council to apply a floor price on carbon for the electricity sector as early as next year.”

Europe in Unison

Royal explained that that her ongoing efforts to promote the viability of carbon pricing had finally paid dividends. Already, 26 governments are part of the CPLC and 12% of emissions are currently covered by pricing mechanisms. The new goal is to eventually cover 50% of global carbon emissions by pricing systems by 2050.

Admitting that it would be “difficult” to implement a universal carbon price, Royal instead urged nations and businesses to implement individual pricing mechanisms as a way to provide long-term security against climate change.

Royal revealed that France is currently operating with a €56 per tonne carbon price – which will grow to €100 per tonne by 2030 – while also creating a floor price for carbon in the electricity sector at €30. According to Royal, the floor price compliments the soon-to-be revamped Emission Trading System (ETS) so well that the floor price should be extended across the whole of Europe.

“We have everything to gain by strengthening the communication between public authorities and economic decision makers. We must continue on this path and collectively commit to involve business in the development of climate policy,” Royal added.

“I call on [business and governments] to internalise the price of carbon that is sufficiently high to act as an indicator for low-carbon decisions. Secondly I urge businesses to join the CPLC and be at the forefront of the transition towards the low-carbon economy.”

Matt Mace

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