The Paris Agreements were formally approved on Wednesday, as it rallied 60 countries which account for almost half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Elaborated on December last year, the Paris Agreements required at least 55 signing countries to be ratified. It was approved by China and the United States, which are the world’s primary emitters of greenhouse gasses. The main goal of the agreements is to limit global warming a 1.5 °C increase in global temperature when compared to pre-industrial levels. Because this goal would be impossible without intense and binding industry and government reform, the ratification of the Paris Agreements proves to be an important step into developing climate conservation.
Nations united to confront climate change
The advances come to fruition as Climate Week joins up with the opening of the United Nations’ General Assembly. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had already established that he would consistently put pressure on signing parties to finally ratify the Paris Agreements before 2017.
Scientists believe that achieving such goal would cost at least $90 trillion in the long term, and said costs would have to be paid mostly by governments and private industries, which has led to increasing discrepancies about signing nations whose industries would have to undergo severe reform.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had warned earlier this month that cooperating nations will have the perfect opportunity to vow their support to the agreements amid Climate Week.
As the one-hour session of the General Assembly progressed, 29 countries had joined the ratification of the agreements, including Mexico, Ukraine, and Argentina (which account for 1.7, 1.04, and 0.89 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions respectively).
Although many countries have chosen to join the initiative, the emission rate is not enough to represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, only reaching 48 percent. For the agreements to be put into action, 55 countries representing 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions need to ratify the resolution.
More countries to join in the next months
In Europe, only three countries, among them France, have passed the Paris Agreements through their parliamentary system, but there appears to be a significant deal of pressure as the agreements represent an international coalition of parties pushing for a reform with a global spectrum of implications. The European Union intends to enter the agreements as a whole, as it represents 12 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Each member state is expected to complete their regulatory and lawmaking processes to ratify the decision.
More countries appear to be inclining to join the agreements as the upcoming climate discussions will be held in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 7, which could yield the remaining 7 percent to put the Paris Agreements into full force as soon as next month.
The Marrakech meetings will represent the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 22), and it is expected that both objectives of 55 signing countries representing 55 percent global greenhouse gas emissions are accomplished by October 7. Canada and Australia, two of the largest emitters, are also expected to join the agreements sometime along 2016.
Donald Trump plans to ‘exit’ the agreements
On the other hand, Donald Trump is one of the most prominent opponents to the facts of climate change, threatening to exit the Paris Agreements if he were elected president.
The Republican nominee’s claim generated an outburst from the American scientific community, where 375 scientists belonging to the National Academy of Sciences signed a letter addressed to Donald Trump, suggesting that “such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.”
Withdrawing the U.S. from the agreements would be a complete setback to the global efforts against climate change. The Paris Agreements are the precedent for developing sustainable clean energy and reducing contamination produced by worldwide industry. If the U.S. were to retract from the agreements it would also mean a severe loss of leadership in international politics, sending a negative message to signing nations and to developing countries which are supposed to receive assistance from developed countries to deal with climate issues specifically, as it is expressed in the agreements.
These implications include the fact that the United States is the second largest global emitter of greenhouse gasses, while also being the leading nation in the Western hemisphere. If the U.S. “exits” the agreements, the goal of limiting global warming to a 1.5 °C increase will be impossible, as the increase in temperature will surely surpass the 1.5 °C mark, as one of the most influential nations promoting the agreements would just relinquish its responsibility.
Secretary General Ban-ki Moon urged world leaders to take advantage of the momentum generated by the approval of the agreements by 29 nations and to bring the resolution into clear action.
“The remarkable support for this Agreement reflects the urgency and magnitude of the challenge. Emissions continue to rise,” Ban Ki-Moon stated. “So does the global thermostat – and the risks. I commend this collective display of leadership. Only through such solidarity can we limit climate risks and build a world of peace, dignity, and prosperity for all on a healthy planet.”