Earth Day will ratify Paris climate change commitment

Paris Bridge
By Anne Adrain, ICAS

22 April 2016

A landmark global agreement on how to tackle climate change will be signed in New York.

Today, (Friday), 22 April, 2016 marks International Mother Earth Day so it is fitting that the UN chose this day to open the Paris Agreement on Climate Change for official signature. More than 150 countries have already confirmed that they will attend the opening ceremony to sign the agreement that was negotiated in Paris on 12 December, 2015 at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21).

In a landmark decision in Paris, all participating countries agreed to commit to limiting the rise in global temperature to well below two degrees celsius, and to strive for a limit of 1.5 degrees, given the very real environmental risks of a two degree increase for some nations.

The signing ceremony, hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, will bring together world leaders and business and civil society representatives to discuss, collectively, what efforts are needed to tackle climate change and sustainable development to deliver on the commitment agreed in Paris.

ICAS was one of a number of global accounting bodies who signed a letter to the world leaders at COP 21 in November 2015 calling upon them to demonstrate the determination and political will necessary to achieve the aspirations set out at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

Our letter urged these leaders to commit to two objectives:

  1. To reaching an agreement in Paris that provided a clear signal that governments will act to achieve a low carbon, sustainable future; and
  2. To put in place a framework that sets out the necessary government actions, reduces uncertainty and enables investors, business and others to make informed decisions that are consistent with this aim.

As a global accounting body with over 21,000 members, ICAS can contribute to this commitment and help organisations address climate change. Our responsibility to act in the public interest, combined with our expertise, can assist in the measurement, reporting and the decision-making necessary to deliver future environmental, social and economic sustainability.

So Earth Day promises to be a historic and symbolic one this year, but it is only the first step in ensuring that the commitment agreed in Paris results in the positive and global actions necessary to deliver a more sustainable future for us all.

Anne Adrain is ICAS Assistant Director, Sustainability and Assurance.


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