Earth Day 2016: World leaders to sign Paris Agreement in New York

By Shubhda Khanna Nag ·

Earth Day 2016 will be marked by an iconic event as Global leaders from across the world will gather in New York today to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Last December Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change came to an understanding of the terms of the Agreement (which was a historic achievement), but there still remained a couple of important steps before the Agreement could actually come into force.

The Australian government will be represented at the signing ceremony by Environment Minister Greg Hunt. The ceremony is expected to be attended by 60 heads of state and representatives from over 150 countries including France, China and India.  

The Agreement will be open for signature from 22 April, 2016 to 21 April, 2017 and will only become binding under international law after 55 countries, representing at least 55% of world greenhouse emissions, have ratified the agreement.  

The larger goal of the Agreement is to limit the release of greenhouse emissions so that global warming can be limited to below 2 degrees Celsius. Australia’s target is to reduce emissions to 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

Given that March was the sixth month in a row, to have shattered the global high temperature record, there is a sense of international urgency for ratifying the Agreement this year, instead of 2020 as was originally expected.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day, celebrated every year on April 22 since 1970, marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. It started off as a day in the United States to give voice to the emerging consciousness of people towards environmental concerns. Today, as the fight for a clean environment continues, it is observed by 184 countries as a way of showing their commitment towards activating a sustainable future.

4 ways to get involved

For people looking to join the eco-friendly movement this Earth Day, here are 4 ways to get involved:

1. Join an event. There are heaps of Earth Day events happening across the world that provide a platform for people to channel their commitment towards the renewables revolution. Click here to find an Earth Day event near you.  

2. Sign the petition. You can show your support towards the Paris Agreement by signing the online petition and joining millions of citizens calling for urgent climate action.  

3. Offset your carbon footprint. Make a conscious effort to reduce your carbon footprint by adopting a greener lifestyle. Check out these simple energy saving tips that can help reduce your ecological impact on the planet.    

4. Track your energy consumption. One of the most effective ways to keep a check on how you’re consuming Earth’s natural resources every day is to track your electricity and gas usage. Analyse and compare your energy plan with other offers to make sure you’re on the most energy efficient plan.

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