As Google with its beautiful doodle reminded people around the world about the Earth Day on April 22, nearly 155 nations will sign the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the headquarters of the United Nations (UN) in New York.
The agreement was approved by the 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of the Climate Change (UNFCCC) in COP21 in Paris on Dec. 12, 2015 and it entails pledge by member nations to limit the temperature rise levels below 2 degrees Celsius, and maintain them at below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The signing ceremony will be held in the hall of the General Assembly, with the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon, President of France Francois Hollande, the President of the COP21 Segolene Royal and the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC Christiana Figueres. “The number of countries that have indicated their intention to attend and sign the Paris Agreement on 22 April is now up to 155,” said the Spokesman for the UN Secretary General Farhan Haq.
Inviting the nations to come forward and sign the Climate Change pact, UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon said: “The world now has an agreement on universal, equitable, flexible and durable climate. Our task is not over. In fact, it’s just begun. In 2016, we must move from words to deeds. The signing ceremony this April 22 is an essential step.”
After each nation completes this process, the action plans will be presented to the Depositary under Ban Ki-moon in New York. It is only when an action plan has been deposited that a country has officially ratified the Paris Agreement. The event will coincide with this year’s Earth Day celebrations on April 22.
In 2009 the UN General Assembly decided to designate the day as International Mother Earth Day, in a common expression for the planet Earth that demonstrates the interdependence between human beings, other living species and the planet. For 2016, the theme chosen is: Trees for Earth.
The Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 in the US, organized by the Earth Day Network whose mission is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide and mobilize as the most effective vehicle for building a healthy, sustainable environment, tackling climate change and protecting the Earth for future generations. Soon, it has become a world phenomenon and this year, it also coincided with the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Under this year’s theme, the Earth Day Network has set a target of planting 7.8 million trees in the next five years to combat climate change as they absorb excess CO2. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by a car running 26,000 miles, said the UN on the International Day of Mother Earth website.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed reverence and gratitude towards the planet, on the occasion of Earth Day, saying:”On Earth Day, reverence and gratitude to our planet that has given us everything.”
Here are some quick facts on Earth Day:
Celebrated every year on April 22 an an annual event, the day encourages people across the world to plant trees and reduce environmental destruction.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 in the US but became recognized worldwide by 1990.
20 million people observed the first Earth Day in 1970 and every year it is observed by people around the world by collecting garbage, planting trees, cleaning up coral reefs, showing movies, signing petitions, and planning for a better future.
On Earth Day 2009, Disney released a documentary titled ‘Earth’ showcasing the migration paths of four animal families.
U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day and it was renamed officially by the UN in 2009 as International Mother Earth Day.
On Earth Day 2012, more than 100,000 people rode bikes in China to reduce CO2 emissions and save fuel.
On this day, 100 endangered species of orchids were planted in Panama.
What Celebrities Said on Planet Earth:
Several world leaders have long urged people to protect the environment and respect the nature around us. To begin with, Mahatma Gandhi said:”Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Space physics legend Stephen Hawking echoed similar view when he said: “We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”
Hollywoood actor and this year’s award winner Leonardo DeCaprio joined the celebrities to encourage nature worship and planet earth’s preservation. “We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species,” he said.
To cap them all, UN Secretary general ban ki Moon says: “Personally, I do not know whether humankind is alone in this vast universe. But I do know that we should cherish our existence on this precious speck of matter… the greatest gift that could be bestowed upon us. For all practical purposes, there is only one planet Earth.”