UNITED NATIONS—Even as world leaders contemplate a proliferation of global challenges they face at the 71st United Nations General Assembly, the international community stands on the cusp of an remarkable achievement: The Paris Agreement on climate change is on the verge of entering into force within a year of it’s creation. The Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Asim, who is serving as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States at the meeting, released the following statement ahead of the historic occasion:
“Small islands have led the Paris Agreement ratification process from the start and we represent nearly half of the 50-plus countries that have ratified or that are expected to do so soon,“ said Dr. Asim. “We are a hairbreadth’s away from the agreement taking effect this year and I will redouble my effort to bring us over the line so we can turn our full attention to implementation.”
At least 20 additional countries are expected to formally join the Paris Agreement on climate change at a special event tomorrow, nearing the 55 mark required for it to take effect. Parties also need to account for 55 percent of global emissions, a threshold that might be harder to reach tomorrow, but one likely to be surpassed by the end of the year.
Almost half of the countries that have formally acceded to the Paris Agreement are AOSIS members and it is no accident that small islands assumed this role. They were among the first countries to call for an international response to climate change in the late 1980s and have watched its impacts worsen ever since, including an ongoing coral bleaching event that circumnavigated the tropical belt earlier this year.
“This is a very encouraging start, but we call on all countries to join the Paris Agreement as soon as possible. Climate change is a truly international problem and solving it requires all of us to do our part,” Asim said.