Paris climate agreement becomes international law
UNITED NATIONSThe Paris Agreement to combat climate change became international law on Nov. 4, putting pressure on countries to take action to slash greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.
This action comes after record-fast ratification by nations reassembling next week for a fresh round of U.N. climate talks.
The accord passed a threshold on Oct. 5 of 55 nations accounting for more than 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, allowing it to come into force 30 days later.
So far, 96 countries, accounting for just over two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, have formally joined the accord, which seeks to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
It also notes an ambition to limiting temperature rise even further to 1.5 degrees.
Many more countries are expected to come aboard in the coming weeks and months.
“Humanity will look back on Nov. 4, 2016, as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster,” U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said, according to AFP.
While cause for celebration, “it is also a moment to look ahead with sober assessment and renewed will over the task ahead,” she said.
This meant drastically cutting emissions in the short term, “certainly in the next 15 years,” Espinosa pointed out a day after a U.N. report said current trends were steering the world towards climate “tragedy.”
By 2030, said the U.N. Environment Programme, annual greenhouse gas emissions will be 12 to 14 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) higher than the desired level of 42 billion tons.
The 2014 level was about 52.7 billion tons.
The 2015 Paris Agreement won swift backing last December by 192 countries including China, the United States and the European Union and has been described as the most complex global treaty since the Marrakesh (trade) Agreement, signed in 1994.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to commemorate “this historic day for both the people and the planet” by holding a conversation with civil society organizations about how they can contribute to the objectives of the Paris agreement.
“For years, he warned that we are the first generation to really feel the effects of climate change - and the last that can meaningfully prevent its worst consequences,” Dujarric said. “His push for action was backed by government officials, scientists, faith leaders, business executives and civil society activists around the world who understood that the future of our common home is at stake. They made today possible.”
The annual report of U.N. Environment analyzed countries’ current pledges for emission cuts and said they were not sufficient.
Even if emission-cutting pledges under the Paris agreement are fully implemented, predicted 2030 emissions could put the world on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius this century, the report said.
The latest round of U.N. climate talks are set to begin on Nov. 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, where representatives from countries will try to find ways to implement the agreement.