Singapore among 175 nations which signed landmark Paris Agreement climate accord

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan signing the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan signing the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.PHOTO: AFP

The Paris Agreement to curb global climate change is a "strong affirmation that diplomacy is essential and capable of solving problems on the global commons", said Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where 175 nations signed the landmark climate accord on Friday.

While this was the biggest one-day endorsement of a global agreement, many states still require a parliamentary vote to formally approve the deal.

Taking the lead on the issue were China and the United States - the world's top greenhouse gas producers - who pledged to adopt the accord by the end of the year.

Said US Secretary of State John Kerry: "The urgency of this challenge is only becoming more pronounced.... the United States looks forward to formally joining this agreement this year and we call on all of our international partners to do so."

The deal will enter into force only when ratified by at least 55 nations representing 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Together, China and the US account for 38 per cent of these emissions.

"China will finalise domestic legal procedures on its accession before the G20 Hangzhou summit in September this year," said China's Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli at the UN signature ceremony.

The deal commits states to keep the global rise in temperatures to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Dr Balakrishnan also emphasised the importance of putting words into action and building on the momentum from the Paris meeting last year.

"We all need to remember that we have to take decisive pre-2020 actions in order to create a solid foundation for our post-2020 commitments," Dr Balakrishnan said.

He added that domestically, Singapore would pursue renewable energy in the form of increased solar PV (Photovoltaic) deployment.

"This will supplement our substantial energy efficiency efforts and other mitigation measures to lower our Emissions Intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels and to stabilize our emissions around 2030," he said.

Dr Balakrishnan acknowledged that difficult conversations had taken place to make the agreement happen, but added that the accord has shown there are ways for countries to work together for a "balanced and inclusive outcome".

"We have proven that an agreement can be built on a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. And that there is a pathway to raise ambition, to enhance global support for climate action, and to improve over time," he said.