Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Paris climate deal gets record approval

175 nations’ speedy signatures may put it into force in 2016

- By Edith M. Lederer and Cara Anna

Agreement receives historic support on opening day with 175 signatures.

UNITED NATIONS — The historic agreement on climate change marked a major milestone on Friday with a record 175 countries signing on to it on opening day. But world leaders made clear more action is needed, and quickly, to fight a relentless rise in global temperatur­es.

With the planet heating up to record temperatur­es, sea levels rising and glaciers melting, the pressure to have the Paris Agreement enter into force and to have every country turn its words into deeds was palpable at the United Nations signing ceremony.

“The world is in a race against time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening speech. “The era of consumptio­n without consequenc­es is over.

“Today you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises,” he said.

The agreement will go into effect once 55 countries representi­ng at least 55 percent of global emissions have formally joined it, a process initially expected to take until 2020. But following a host of announceme­nts at the signing event, observers now think it could happen later this year.

China, the world’s top carbon emitter, announced it would “finalize domestic procedures” to ratify the agreement before the G-20 summit in China in September. The U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter, reiterated its intention to ratify this year, as did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

Maros Sefcovic, the energy chief for another top emitter, the 28-nation European Union, has also said the EU wants to be in the “first wave” of ratifying countries.

Congo’s President Joseph Kabila, speaking on behalf of the world’s 48 least-developed countries, said all were committed to “move in one irreversib­le direction to secure a safer climate.” Even though they are small emitters, he said they’d take steps to ratify the agreement “as soon as possible,” a reflection of the pact’s wide reach.

The Washington-based World Resources Institute said that at least 25 countries representi­ng 45 percent of global emissions had either joined the agreement Friday or committed to joining it early.

Secretary of State John Kerry, whose granddaugh­ter joined him at the ceremony and was a symbol of the future generation­s the deal is aimed at protecting, said the signing of the agreement had to be followed by a recommitme­nt by world leaders to actually win the “war” against carbon emissions that are making the planet hotter every year.

The signing set a record for internatio­nal diplomacy: Never have so many countries signed an agreement on the first available day. States that didn’t sign Friday have a year to do so.

Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu, which has seen four of its small islands disappear into the Pacific Ocean since 2000, said the agreement can change the world — but islands on the front line of climate change urgently need better access to financing to protect themselves against rising oceans. He urged internatio­nal support for an insurance program for Pacific island nations. Tuvalu was one of 15 nations that not only signed but ratified the agreement Friday.

The nations that haven’t indicated they will sign include some of the world’s largest oil producers — Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, according to the World Resources Institute.

The Paris Agreement was a major breakthrou­gh in U.N. climate negotiatio­ns, which for years were slowed by disputes between rich and poor countries over which should do what. Under the agreement, countries set their own targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The targets are not legally binding, but countries must update them every five years.

Already, states face pressure to do more.

Scientific analyses show the initial set of targets don’t match the agreement’s long-term goal to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with pre-industrial times. Global average temperatur­es have already climbed by almost 1 degree Celsius. Last year was the hottest on record.

 ?? JEMAL COUNTESS/GETTY ?? John Kerry’s granddaugh­ter joins him at a signing ceremony Friday for the Paris Agreement on climate change.
JEMAL COUNTESS/GETTY John Kerry’s granddaugh­ter joins him at a signing ceremony Friday for the Paris Agreement on climate change.

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