US, China cli­mate move brings hope

The Myanmar Times - - World -

CLI­MATE ac­tivists and small na­tions at risk of global warm­ing’s direst con­se­quences have wel­comed the rat­i­fi­ca­tion by China and the United States of a global pact to curb plan­etharm­ing car­bon emis­sions.

The move by 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, they said.

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 United States 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 mere rat­i­fi­ca­tion was not enough to meet the agree­ment’s 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.

De­pend­ing on their con­sti­tu­tions, for many coun­tries this means pass­ing do­mes­tic leg­is­la­tion.

China and the United States, 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 1pc of global gases had of­fi­cially ac­ceded to the deal to cap global warm­ing at 2 de­grees Cel­sius over pre-In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion lev­els.

This must be achieved by re­plac­ing at­mos­phere-pol­lut­ing fos­sil fu­els with re­new­able sources.

“To­day’s an­nounce­ment 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 Mar­shall Is­lands, which face the threat of cli­mate change-in­duced sea-level rise.

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

“Now, other coun­tries must act swiftly to rat­ify the deal, and to re­duce their emis­sions in line with the Paris Agree­ment’s long-term goals,” said Lo Sze Ping of en­vi­ron­men­tal group WWF-China.

They should also move quickly to­ward “in­creas­ing their cur­rent pledges”. –

Photo: AFP

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping (C) shakes hand with US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama while UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon looks on dur­ing a joint rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Paris cli­mate change agree­ment cer­e­mony ahead of the G20 Sum­mit at the West Lake State Guest House in Hangzhou on Septem­ber 3.

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