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South Africa ratifies climate agreement in time for Marrakech CoP22

The national assembly has approved South Africa's ratification of the milestone Paris Agreement reached in 2015.

After a fast-tracked domestic process, South Africa’s National Assembly has formally approved South Africa’s ratification of the milestone Paris Agreement reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention.

This means that the country will formally join the ranks of those that have ratified the Paris Agreement and will ensure that the country has a seat at the negotiation table at the first meeting of these Parties in Morocco this month.

WWF South Africa’s CEO Dr Morné du Plessis commented: “It is a great moment to see South Africa join the ranks of countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement. We know that there is incredible urgency to act on climate change.

“By ratifying this global agreement within one year of its negotiation South Africa continues to show its leadership on the international stage and ensures that its voice will be heard as governments pursue further discussions at the upcoming 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention.

“As South Africa is now a formal Party to the Paris Agreement, we also have an even higher responsibility to fight climate change and build a low carbon future.

“This will require an even faster rollout of renewable energy systems, transitioning to low carbon transport alternatives and putting in place the policy frameworks required to drive private sector investment in the right direction.

“However, the onus is not just on government but on all of us to ensure a better future.

“Many global businesses have already started lowering their climate footprints while progress in South Africa is lagging behind with only a few companies committed to action in line with climate science.

“South Africa’s ratification of the Paris Agreement is paving the way for us all to unlock the benefits of a low carbon economy but everyone has to play their part.

“This also requires citizens to make the necessary lifestyle adjustments while holding our government and corporate leaders accountable for delivery on their promises.”

The last two years have been remarkable for the Earth’s climate: 2015 was the hottest year to be recorded and, by the mid-way mark, 2016 was on track to surpass these levels. Average global monthly temperatures are now cresting at 1°C above pre-industrial levels while atmospheric carbon dioxide levels seem to have permanently breached 400ppm – 120 parts per million more than before we started burning fossil fuels for energy.

However, these two years have also seen the most coherent international response to this grave challenge. The milestone Paris Agreement of December 2015 represents the first time that all countries in the world are united under one international treaty to address climate change.

And this momentum has continued. By April most countries had formally signed the agreement and by 5 October 2016 the required minimum of 55 countries, accounting for 55% of global emissions, had formally ratified the agreement. That means that parliaments and legislatures have formally gone through the domestic processes required for their governments to implement the agreement. With this minimum threshold, the agreement will officially enter into force on 4 November 2016 and start driving global policy.
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Countries reached a milestone agreement in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention in 2015.

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