The United Nations expects the number of countries that will sign the Paris climate change agreement at an April 22 ceremony in New York to exceed the record for the number signing up to an international accord on the day it opens, a U.N. official said on Wednesday.
The largest number to date was 119 countries that signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on Dec. 10, 1982, according to Selwin Hart, director of the U.N. secretary-general’s climate change support team.
The number of countries inking the new global deal to tackle climate change, agreed by around 195 countries in December, is likely to exceed that record, Hart told reporters in New York.
“There is extremely strong political will to be part of this historic moment,” he said. “Countries are excited and energised around participating.”
Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, and U.N. expectations are that 120 or more nations will sign the accord there – more than the 80 to 100 mentioned earlier this month by Segolene Royal, France’s environment minister who recently took over as chair of the U.N. climate talks.
Hart said “many” heads of state and government were due to attend the ceremony at U.N. headquarters, including Canada’s prime minister and the French president.
The agreement can be formally signed by any representative designated by a country, and Hart said that signing the accord would enable it to be accepted at the national level.
The agreement is due to take effect in 2020, but requires at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions to ratify or accede to it first.
In the deal, governments agreed to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times and pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5 degrees.