Representatives from more than 175 nations signed the Paris climate accord at the United Nations in New York City on 22 April. Global leaders celebrated the event — timed to coincide with Earth Day — with considerable fanfare, but countries must still take more action to implement the December 2015 agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to between 1.5 °C and 2 °C.
Nature examines what must happen for the accord to take legal effect — and, ultimately, to achieve its goal.
What is the significance of this week’s signing event?
Most importantly, the event was an opportunity for countries to demonstrate their commitment to the UN process. The Paris accord is the first legally binding climate agreement since 1997, when developed countries agreed to curb emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. The Paris accord would create a system that requires all countries to take action, but its adoption by 196 nations on 12 December was just the first step.
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