As the United Nations General Assembly converges in New York on Tuesday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is using the gathering of world leaders to rush the 2015 Paris climate change accord into legal force this year, hoping to bind all countries to its strictures for at least the next four years.
The Paris deal was reached in December. At the time, the diplomats who forged the deal said that their goal was for it to enter into force by 2020.
But Mr. Ban has planned a ceremony at the United Nations on Sept. 21, when he hopes to announce that enough countries have ratified the deal, or pledged to ratify it. To do that, he would need at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of climate-change emissions.
Once the requisite signatures are secured, each country will be legally bound to the deal for at least four years — even if the country’s government does not participate in the accord.
To date, at least 27 countries representing about 40 percent of global emissions have ratified the deal. But the bulk of those emissions — nearly 40 percent — are produced by two countries, the United States and China.
But it is far from certain that Mr. Ban can get enough countries to add up to the 55 percent threshold. No other countries have close to as many carbon emissions as China or the United States.
The world’s third-largest carbon polluter, India, which emits about 7 percent of the world’s emissions, has been unclear about its plans to sign on. Although India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, emerged as a key broker of the Paris agreement, many members of his government remain wary of taking the final steps to clinch the deal.
In the face of such difficulties, Mr. Ban has redoubled his diplomatic efforts. He is hoping to see more progress in the nearest future.