Wednesday, April 20, 2016

US China and Others to Sign the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day Suggesting an Early Start to Implementation

The US and China, the world's leading carbon emitters have agreed to sign the historic Paris Climate Agreement at a signing ceremony on Earth Day. The signing of the agreement on Friday April 22nd at UN headquarters is more than just a symbolic gesture.

Of the 196 countries on-board at COP21 in Paris last December, as many as 155 other nations, including India, are expected to sign the agreement on Earth Day.

The signing by the US and China is crucial as they account for 38 percent of global emissions. This sends a powerful message that will be heard around the world. This is but the latest cooperative climate statement by these two nations.  In November, 2014 the US and China launched their joint efforts to limit carbon emissions and then they followed this up with more climate cooperation in September, 2015.

To make the agreement operational 55 percent or 55 countries will need to sign the agreement.This would mean that the agreement would come into effect far sooner than the 2020 target date floated prior to COP21. The final Paris agreement does not make mention of the 2020 implementation date. Early implementation will increase the political pressure to increase carbon reduction targets in 2018.

More ambitious targets are necessary given that current INDCs will increase global temperatures to 2.7C (the upper threshold limit set in the Paris agreement is between 1.5C and 2C). We need to see emissions peak by 2020 if we are to be able to keep temperatures from breaching 2C of warming above pre-industrial times.

As reported by the Guardian, Eliza Northrop, an analyst at the World Resources Institute, said there was growing momentum behind an early approval of the agreement.
"It’s likely it could come into effect in 2017. It could even happen this year," she said.
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