Paris cli­mate ac­cord inches closer

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

NEW YORK: The land­mark Paris agree­ment on cli­mate change moved closer to re­al­ity yes­ter­day after 31 coun­tries joined dur­ing the United Na­tions (UN) Gen­eral Assem­bly here.

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon voiced con­fi­dence the ac­cord, through which coun­tries com­mit to take ac­tion to stem the planet’s ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, would come into force by the year’s end.

“The mo­men­tum is re­mark­able,” said the out­go­ing UN chief, who con­vened a meet­ing on the Paris ac­cord dur­ing the an­nual UN gath­er­ing of lead­ers.

“When the Paris agree­ment comes into force this year, it will be a ma­jor step for­ward in our jour­ney for a more se­cure, more eq­ui­table, and more pros­per­ous fu­ture,” he said.

The ac­cord re­quires all coun­tries to de­vise plans to achieve the goal of keep­ing the rise of tem­per­a­tures within two de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 Fahren­heit) above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els.

Sci­en­tists say that such a tem­per­a­ture rise still poses risks but could save the planet from the worst ef­fects of cli­mate change, in­clud­ing wors­en­ing flood­ing, storms and droughts that may cause food short­ages, species ex­tinc­tion and sig­nif­i­cant hu­man dis­place­ment.

The coun­tries that joined the ac­cord yes­ter­day in­cluded Latin Amer­i­can pow­er­houses Ar­gentina, Brazil and Mex­ico as well as ma­jor fos­sil fuel pow­ers Brunei and the United Arab Emi­rates.

To come into force, the Paris agree­ment needs rat­i­fi­ca­tion from 55 coun­tries that ac­count for at least 55% of the planet’s green­house gas emis­sions re­spon­si­ble for cli­mate change.

With yes­ter­day’s event, a to­tal of 60 coun­tries have joined the Paris ac­cord, meet­ing the thresh­old. But they ac­count for just less than 48% of emis­sions, ac­cord­ing to UN fig­ures.

Ban’s of­fice said that 14 other coun­tries, ac­count­ing for 12.58% of emis­sions, had sig­nalled they would rat­ify the ac­cord this year, mean­ing the agree­ment is vir­tu­ally cer­tain to come into force, bar­ring a wide­spread change of heart.

Notably, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is ex­pected to vote to ap­prove the Paris ac­cord next month.

China and the United States, the two largest emit­ters, gave a ma­jor boost when they signed on dur­ing a sum­mit ear­lier this month be­tween pres­i­dents Xi Jin­ping and Barack Obama. – AFP

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