climate change erosion rocks dry

Paris Agreement to be enacted next month, UN says

The Paris Agreement, which was signed by 200 countries last year and compels countries to take measures to limit global warming, is to come into effect next month, four years before the original 2020 target.

The agreement represents the world’s first comprehensive climate treaty and aims to ensure that the global temperature does not rise 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

It was always due to come into effect 30 days after being ratified by at least 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of the world’s emissions but it was initially assumed that this process would take longer.

Both the thresholds have now been met as Austria Bolivia Canada France Germany Hungary Malta, Nepal, Portugal and Slovakia as well as the European Union, handed in their formal documents of ratification at the UN.

In addition, India, the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, ratified the treaty this week following China and the US in the summer, countries that constitute the other two spots in the top three emitters. 

The UK is expected to ratify the agreement, secured in the French capital last December‚ before the end of the year

With the treaty set to enter into force on 4 November 2016, before the next round of UN climate talks begin in Morocco, there were calls to turn ratification into swift action.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said: “This is a momentous occasion. What once seemed unthinkable is now unstoppable.

“Strong international support for the Paris Agreement entering into force is a testament to the urgency for action, and reflects the consensus of governments that robust global co-operation, grounded in national action, is essential to meet the climate challenge.”

The UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa said: “This is a truly historic moment for people everywhere.

“The speed at which countries have made the Paris Agreement’s entry into force possible is unprecedented in recent experience of international agreements and is a powerful confirmation of the importance nations attach to combating climate change and realising the multitude of opportunities inherent in the Paris Agreement.”

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s senior climate adviser, said: “The speed at which the Paris Agreement has come into force has been remarkable. But we now need to see tangible actions to follow just as quickly.

“The Paris Agreement is a triumph of global co-operation. It just shows that when faced with a threat like climate change, the world is able to come together and respond quickly.

“Yet the hard part is yet to come, behaviour change is always difficult, but if we don’t change ourselves, then the climate will force it on us.”

He added that it was now essential the world weaned itself off fossil fuels, saying: “The Paris Agreement was like a breakthrough at a rehab centre.

“World leaders admitted for the first time they had a fossil fuel addiction problem and would clean up their act.

“The question now is whether they will they stick to this new path, or fail at the first difficult decision.”

Following the announcement, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which includes former heads of government, business leaders and economists, said resilient infrastructure from the design of roads to rural water supplies could limit both global warming and pollution, and ensure economic growth.

Global spending on infrastructure will total $90tr (£70tr) in the next 15 years and is the key to greener economic growth according to a study produced by the commission.

“Investing in sustainable infrastructure is the wisest decision we can take for our future,” said former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who leads the commission.

The study took a broad view of infrastructure, saying it encompassed energy supplies, public transport, buildings, water and sanitation, as well as what it called the “natural infrastructure” of forests and wetlands.

Overall, it projected infrastructure investments from now until 2030 of around $90tr, roughly double the recent levels and mostly in developing nations and cities.

Investment needs will rise partly because of a rising global population. A billion more people will live in urban areas by 2030, roughly the equivalent of building a city the size of Washington every month, Calderon said.

The report called for a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, which it estimated at $550bn in 2014, to help greener investments and wider pricing of emissions of carbon dioxide, the main man-made greenhouse gas.

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