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Landmark Paris climate accord comes into force |04 November 2016

Today, November 4, 2016, Seychelles joins the rest of the world to welcome the coming into force of the Paris Agreement. 

After four years of hard work and negotiations, on December 12, 2015, in Paris, the world adopted a legally binding framework to tackle climate change and eventually save the planet from the brink of disaster.  Such an achievement, by the world community, is unprecedented and today less than a year that the text was made available to parties for ratification it has come into force.

The Seychelles Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Didier  Dogley said that; “In Paris, the world community as a united force set the foundation for meaningful actions at the global, regional and local levels to take place to effectively address the causes of climate change and build resilience within affected communities. With the coming into force of the Paris Agreement, we can now turn the tide on climate change if we all pursue its objectives with the same vigour and spirit we did in Paris last December.”

After the historic agreement, countries party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as per United Nations rules, have to sign and ratify the text of the agreement.  A minimum of 55 of the member states, accounting for about 55% of the global emissions of greenhouse gases, had to ratify before the convention could come into force.  The first group of countries that had ratified the agreement signed it at its opening for signature at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, on April 22, 2016.  Seychelles ratified the Paris Agreement in April 2016 and was among the first group of countries, which consisted mainly of small island developing states (Sids). 

Sids and coastal communities have been identified by scientists as being the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  Among the various forms of impacts island communities are already experiencing are widespread coral bleaching, frequent and extreme storms, flooding, drought, coastal degradation and sea level rise.  In a nutshell, climate change poses an existential threat to these countries and communities.  This is why the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) have been extremely vocal and have pushed very hard for a universal legally binding agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  

So it was with great joy that it was announced on October 5 that 82 member states have ratified the Paris Agreement and that it will come into force, today, November 4, three days before the 22nd Conference of Parties starts in Morocco.

The Paris Agreement is not perfect.  If all countries implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – the document which all member states have produced to spell out the actions they will be undertaking at the local level to mitigate climate change – planet earth will still remain on an increase of 4 degrees Celsius trajectory.  Such an increase is way above the 1.5 degrees Celsius that scientists believe is safe.  This gap has been recognised and addressed within the framework of the Paris Agreement.  This is why all countries have been urged to raise their ambitions and every five years publicise an amended NDC with much higher targets to lower their emissions further.

The biggest challenge as with all multilateral agreements is compliance and the Paris Agreement does not have punitive measures for countries that do not meet their targets or fail to implement their NDCs.  However, countries will have to report back to the convention on a regular basis.

For Seychelles and for countries vulnerable to climate change, the coming into force of the Paris Agreement is more than just a ray of hope but the beginning of a global effort to save the planet and provide future generations with a safer environment to live in.





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