NEW YORK, 30th November, 2015 (WAM) — On the eve of the opening in Paris of the United Nations climate change conference, widely known as COP21, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, is urging all countries and all sectors of society to act now to reach a new universal climate agreement.

“I’m reasonably optimistic and convinced that world leaders will adopt a very ambitious universal climate change agreement at this COP21,” Mr. Ban told the UN News Centre in an interview at the Parisian headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO.

“We’ve been working very hard, very long – the time for action is now. I have seen growing political momentum among member states. They know that they have to take action.”

Ahead of COP21, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, the UN entity organising the conference, has already received some 180 voluntary climate action plans from countries. Formally called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, these will form the basis of the agreement expected to be reached.

As more and more INDCs were submitted, Ban Ki-moon said that this shows that nations are prepared to take meaningful action to address climate change. Many countries have also indicated they would like to see a mechanism in the agreement that will allow them to ramp up their ambition to reach the goal of limiting a global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

The UN News Centre asked the Secretary-General what makes him optimistic that, in a world full of disease, war and famine, world leaders can work together instead of in their own self-interest.

“[Climate change] doesn’t care about national boundaries,” he said. “This is a global phenomenon and [leaders] understand that investing wisely in climate change will help their national economy boost. There are many countries who are investing in sustainable energy including solar energy. It’s skyrocketing.”

The UN climate conference will officially open today when the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, is elected President of COP21. Negotiations towards a final agreement are expected to conclude on 11th December.