175 Nations Sign Paris Climate Agreement

     (CN) — A record 175 nations officially signed the Paris climate agreement in New York on Friday, a symbolic triumph that may lead to nations adopting key provisions years ahead of schedule.
     The pact could become effective long before the original 2020 deadline, though the signatories must formally approve it domestically.
     “We are in a race against time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the signature ceremony. “The era of consumption without consequences is over.”
     The ceremonial signing set an opening-day record for an international agreement, surpassing the 119 signatures for the Law of the Sea treaty in Montego Bay in 1982.
     “We are breaking records in this chamber, and that is good news. But records are also being broken outside. Record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere,” Ki-moon said.
     The agreement is a response to the various impacts of climate change, including warmer temperatures and rising sea levels.
     The long-term goal of the agreement is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels. Global average temperatures have already warmed by nearly 1 degree Celsius, and 2015 was the hottest on record.
     An analysis by Climate Action Tracker projected that the Paris agreement puts the world on track for 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 — if governments uphold their pledges.
     “This level of warming is still well above the agreed limited of 2 degrees, and even further above the 1.5 called for by most governments here at the Paris climate summit,” Marcia Rocha of Climate Analytics said in December.
     The Paris agreement was unanimously passed by over 190 nations this past December and will take effect once 55 nations representing at least 55 percent of global emissions formally join the agreement. China and the United States, which combined account for about 40 percent of global emissions, have stated their intent to formally join the agreement this year.
     India and Brazil have also pledged to ratify the agreement domestically as soon as possible
     “I urge all countries to move quickly to join the agreement at the national level so that the Paris Agreement can enter into force as early as possible,” Ki-moon said.
     Past attempts to ratify climate agreements have failed because of disputes between rich and poor nations and their various interests. The failed 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark was a notable example of the international community failing to come to an agreement.
     Fifteen nations have already ratified the agreement domestically, including Barbados, Maldives, Samoa and Somalia. While they are responsible for almost none of the global greenhouse gas emissions, the nations face the greatest risk due to sea level rise associated with climate change.
     Ki-moon also mentioned the positive side effects of pursuing efforts to battle climate change.
     “Climate action is not a burden; indeed, it offers many benefits,” Ki-moon said. It can help us eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women.”

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