UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, acting in his capacity as the depository of the Paris Climate Change Agreement convened a high-level ceremony for the opening for signature of the Agreement on Friday, 22 April 2016. It was at this meeting the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, signed the Agreement on behalf of the South African government.
The Paris Agreement was adopted on 12 December, 2015 at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP21, in Paris. It is universally regarded as a seminal point in the development of the international climate change regime under the UNFCCC, adopted after four years of intense negotiations mandated by the 17th UNFCCC COP held in Durban in 2011.
The Agreement is a comprehensive framework which will guide international efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to meet all the associated challenges posed by climate change.
It also signals the change in pace towards the low carbon development from 2020 onwards, through commitments of countries in ambitious national plans called Nationally Determined Contributions.
South Africa is already acting on climate change. The country has significant investment in renewable energy, public transport, energy efficiency, waste management and land restoration initiatives.
This outcome acknowledges that climate change represents an urgent threat to human societies and the planet, and requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries and other stakeholders. As of Friday, April 22, 175 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on climate action in New York City, signalling a crucial milestone in international efforts to combat climate change.