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UN Foundation Hails News on Paris Climate Agreement, Leadership by Key Countries

Global luminaries welcome progress as historic climate accord is poised for entry into force

New York, New York —   October 5, 2016

The United Nations Foundation applauded news that the Paris Agreement on climate change is now poised to enter into full force, faster than predicted and faster than any other such agreement since the United Nations was founded in 1945.

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation, said, “The speed with which countries have embraced the Paris climate agreement underscores the urgency of collective action and the importance of the United Nations as the essential mechanism for international cooperation on critical global issues. We salute the persistent leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in getting the world to this point in the remarkable time frame of less than a year.”

With the European Parliament’s vote Tuesday to fast-track ratification, the Paris Agreement has officially met the requirements needed to enter into legal force. In the last week, critical action by India and now the European Union has brought the historic accord above the thresholds needed. Last month, the world's two largest emitters – the U.S. and China – also joined the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement commits parties to take action to keep global temperature rise well below 2° Celsius to stave off the worst impacts of climate change on health, food security, and extreme weather. It is the product of years of UN negotiations, culminating in Paris last December when over 190 nations reached a consensus on the text. For the Agreement to enter into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions had to officially join at the national level. This week, just 10 months after the Paris signing ceremony, the world has surpassed that goal.

Ted Turner, Founder of the UN Foundation and Chair of its Board of Directors, said, “Climate change is the most serious and complex problem humanity has ever faced, but the quick and decisive action by nations around the world to adopt, sign, and formally join the Paris Agreement has shown that countries and their citizens see both the urgency and the opportunity of implementing this universal climate agenda.”

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Vice Chair of the Foundation Board, has been called the “mother of sustainable development” for her role in leading the World Commission on Environment and Development, which prepared the way for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was agreed. She said, “Rapid action on climate change is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and making sure no one is left behind. It has been clear all along on the long road since 1992: To make lasting progress on peace, development, and humanitarian issues, we must make progress on climate change.”

Timothy E. Wirth, former U.S. Senator and Vice Chair of the UN Foundation Board, said, “The Paris Agreement is only a starting point, but it is a very important one – especially in light of its rapid entry into force. Advocates, businesses, and individuals must stay engaged to ensure governments move forward with implementation, turning words into action. They must also press countries to scale up their ambitions and commitments to ensure we meet the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement – to keep the world well below 2°C of global warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Wirth continued, “Everybody has a responsibility to act – not just governments: Companies can purchase 100% renewable energy. Investors can shift capital from fossil fuels to climate solutions. Mayors and governors can take practical steps to increase energy efficiency. Farmers can restore their soil to capture carbon and improve productivity at the same time. And individuals can do all the above – while urging their governments to produce and implement effective plans for low-carbon growth.”

UN Foundation Board Member Narayana Murthy said, “I applaud the nations of the world, including my own nation of India, for this commitment taken to global climate action. The world is reframing the climate discussion: Rather than talking about climate change as a huge and expensive problem, we are recognizing that action on climate change represents a unique opportunity to create smarter, cleaner, more efficient technologies, boost employment, and stimulate economic development and growth.”