Those at risk of cli­mate dam­age praise agree­ment


Cli­mate ac­tivists and small na­tions at risk of global warm­ing’s direst con­se­quences, wel­comed Satur­day’s agree­ment by Chi­nese and US lead­ers on a global pact to curb planet harm­ing car­bon emis­sions.

The agree­ment by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama— rep­re­sent­ing the world’s two largest green­house gas emit­ters — brought the hard-fought agree­ment, con­cluded in Paris in De­cem­ber a ma­jor step closer to tak­ing le­gal ef­fect.

It is “the strongest sig­nal yet that what we agreed in Paris, will soon have the force of law”, said Mat­t­lan Zackhras, min­is­ter-in-as­sis­tance to the pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of the Mar­shall Is­lands, which faces the threat of cli­mate-change in­duced sea-level rise.

“With the two big­gest emit­ters ready to lead, the tran­si­tion to a low emis­sions, cli­mate re­silient global econ­omy is now ir­re­versible.”

The pre­vi­ous in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to curb reliance on planet-harm­ing fos­sil fuels, the Ky­oto Pro­to­col, had ex­cluded China and other de­vel­op­ing na­tions, while the United States re­fused to sign up.

“It’s re­mark­able that in a few short years the world’s two lead­ing cli­mate an­tag­o­nists have be­come the world’s two lead­ing cli­mate cham­pi­ons,” said Bob Per­ci­asepe, pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Cli­mate and En­ergy So­lu­tions, a US-based think tank.

“The US can no longer claim that China’s in­ac­tion is an ex­cuse to do noth­ing, and vice versa. With both again com­mit­ting them­selves to a low car­bon fu­ture, the two coun­tries are set­ting an ex­am­ple the rest of the world can hardly ig­nore.”

Ob­servers urged oth­ers to fol­low suit, while stress­ing that Satur­day’s agree­ment was not enough to meet cli­mate change goals.

The Paris pact has so far been signed by 180 coun­tries, but will only take ef­fect af­ter 55 na­tions re­spon­si­ble for 55 per­cent of green­house gas emis­sions have rat­i­fied it — mak­ing it bind­ing.

De­pend­ing on their con­sti­tu­tions, for many coun­tries this means pass­ing do­mes­tic leg­is­la­tion, but in the US some things may be done by ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­den­tial or­der.

China and the US, jointly re­spon­si­ble for about 38 per­cent of global emis­sions, rat­i­fied the Paris agree­ment on the eve of a meet­ing of G20 lead­ers meet­ing in Hangzhou, China, where all eyes will now be on other ma­jor economies to fol­low suit.

Un­til Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton joined the club, 24 na­tions emit­ting just over one per­cent of global gases had of­fi­cially ac­ceded to the deal to cap global warm­ing at 2 C above pre-In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion lev­els.

This must be achieved by re­plac­ing at­mos­phere-pol­lut­ing fos­sil fuels with re­new­able sources — an am­bi­tious goal to­ward which most UN na­tions have al­ready pledged emis­sions curbs.

On cur­rent coun­try pledges, sci­en­tists ex­pect the world to warm by 3C or more, and more dras­tic mea­sures are needed to ef­fect a large-scale shift to­ward wind, so­lar and other sus­tain­able en­er­gies.

“Now,“Now, other other coun­tries coun­tries must mus­tact swiftly­act swift­lyto rat­ify to the rat­ify deal, the and deal,to re­duce­and to their re­duce emis­sion­s­their emis­sion­sin line with in the line Paris with Agree­ment’sthe Paris Agree­ment’slong-term goals,” long-term said goals,”Lo Sze Ping said of Lo en­vi­ron­men­talSze Ping of group en­vi­ron­men­talWWF-China. group WWF-China.“The fight against cli­mate change“The fight re­mains against dif­fi­cult cli­mate and changeur­gent, re­mains­but hav­ing dif­fi­cult heavy-hit­ter­sand ur­gent, like Chinabut havin­gand the heavy­hit­ter­sUS on your side likeis ex­treme­lyChina and heart­en­ing,”the US on said your Erik side Sol­heim,is ex­tremely from heart­en­ing,”the UN En­vi­ron­ment­said Erik Sol­heim, Pro­gramme. from the UN en­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme.

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