Today, on December 12th, 2020, we are commemorating the 5th year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement and the leaders who worked vigorously to bring it to life. In 2007, when Ban Ki-moon first assumed his position as the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, he positioned global action on climate change as a guiding priority of his mandate. He remembers how many people were surprised by this, “but immediately raising this issue of critical significance was necessary to set the tone for my leadership and policy priorities from the outset.”
During his tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon hosted five major climate change summits and worked tirelessly to place climate action as a priority for national governments. Being the first Secretary-General to attend all the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) sessions, he reflects on COP15 (the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC) “…even though there was no binding agreement, a “political accord” drafted by US, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil was issued. This document would serve as the basis for continuing the COPs until the 2015 Paris Agreement.”
Working up to COP21 in Paris, Ban Ki-moon went on several on-the-ground visits around the world to see the immense impact caused by climate change on communities, countries, and the planet’s entirety. He recalls, “…these travels reinforced my belief that climate change represented humankind’s biggest challenge.”
The UNFCCC’s COP21 in 2015 signified a milestone for global climate action. This was the conference where the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted by world leaders representing 195 nations. This was a remarkable moment in history when all countries unanimously came to a consensus on committing to slow down the rise in temperatures, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and elevate climate-resilient development and adaptation. Ban Ki-moon to this day is still “incredibly proud of the fact that we unanimously achieved this landmark goal, and the Paris Agreement was adopted by consensus in Paris on December 12th, 2015. This was a resounding triumph not only for our earth but for multilateralism as well.”
As we are in the final stretch of a truly unprecedented year 2020, on this anniversary of the landmark agreement, we are reminded of the commitments made five years ago by global leaders on behalf of humanity. The Paris Agreement was the starting point, a valuable blueprint to mitigate the serious threats to our planet.
We need to prepare for our future.
Now, more than ever we need to invest in our collective efforts to break the earth’s fever.