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Paris Climate Pact to Be Global ‘Law’ on Nov. 4

(CN) - The 2015 Paris agreement on climate change will officially take effect on Nov. 4, after a coalition of the world's largest polluters and nations most threatened by rising seas cleared a major benchmark on Wednesday.

United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said late Wednesday that enough nations have taken steps to enact the agreement, which was originally agreed upon by 190 nations.

Haq said that the European Union and 10 nations deposited their instruments of ratification on Wednesday. These nations account for 55 percent of global emissions, the threshold needed for the treaty to take effect.

The 10 nations include Austria, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Nepal, Portugal and Slovakia.

"I am delighted to announce that today the Paris Agreement will cross the second and final threshold needed for entry into force, and will enter into force on 4 November 2016," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement issued from Europe. "Global momentum for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2016 has been remarkable. What once seemed unthinkable is now unstoppable."

President Barack Obama also touted the Paris agreement coming into force in remarks at the White House Rose Garden.

"Today the world meets the moment. And if we follow through on the commitments that this agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet," Obama said.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker - who last month told EU lawmakers that delaying ratification of the agreement would "undermine the union's credibility" - praised Europe's action on Wednesday.

"Today the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action," Juncker said. "The Paris Agreement is the first of its kind and it would not have been possible were it not for the European Union. Today we continued to show leadership and prove that, together, the European Union can deliver."

While 62 nations had ratified the agreement by Tuesday, they only accounted for 52 percent of global emissions - insufficient to officially enact the treaty.

The Paris agreement unites rich and developing nations in the global effort to combat mounting global temperatures that are raising sea levels, melting glaciers, shifting rainfall patterns and causing other extreme weather events. The treaty requires governments to develop national plans to reduce emissions in an effort to limit global temperature rises to well below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial averages.

While the goals in the agreement are not legally binding, the treaty does require nations to report on emissions and their progress toward reaching the targets in the national climate plans they submitted to the U.N. The nations are also required to update them every five years and pursue measures to implement their stated goals.

After being adopted on Dec. 12, 2015, the agreement will enter force quicker than most international resolutions, owing to the urgency of the fight against global warming and a desire to complete the deal before Obama and Ban leave office.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports the agreement, while Republican candidate Donald Trump opposes it.

However, researchers have presented findings that the treaty doesn't go far enough and nations will need to do more to prevent the planet from warming to the 3.6 degrees above preindustrial averages mark.

A team of scientists who were involved in past international climate conferences presented evidence Sept. 29 that the reductions outlined by participating nations are not enough to avoid the 3.6-degree mark, particularly since global temperatures have already risen about 1.8 degrees.

"The pledges are not going to get even close," said lead author Sir Robert Watson, a former World Bank chief scientist who used to be chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "If you governments of the world are really serious, you're going to have to do way, way more."

Nations are attempting to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees due to the more severe weather events that will begin to occur and become more frequent as the planet bypasses that mark.

"As you go more and more above [3.8 degrees Fahrenheit], the negative effects become more and more pronounced, more and more severe," Watson said.

Follow @SeanDuffyCNS
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