06 Sep 2016 03:09:53
USA and China ratify Paris climate pact
The USA and China, which together are responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions, have formally joined the Paris global climate agreement. Arriving on 3rd September for the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, President Obama said: "History will judge today's effort as pivotal."
Last December in Paris, nations agreed to cut CO2 emissions in a bid to keep the global average temperature rise well below 2degC. However, the Paris climate agreement will only come into legal force after it has been ratified by at least 55 countries, producing between them 55% of global carbon emissions.
According to BBC News, China's National People's Congress Standing Committee adopted "the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement" at the end of a week-long session. Until the Chinese announcement, the 23 nations that had ratified the agreement accounted for only around 1% of global emissions.
The US move was announced in a White House statement. In a speech in Hangzhou, Mr Obama said the Paris deal was the "single best chance that have to deal with a problem that could end up transforming this planet".
However, analysts warn that the target of temperature rises within 2degC is already in danger of being breached. Meteorologists have recorded the hottest month on record for each of the last 14 consecutive months. Further increases are likely as the effect of previous carbon emissions is felt.
Paris agreement: key points
· To keep global temperature increase "well below" 2degC and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5degC
· To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
· To review progress every five years
· $100bn a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future
· Once the deal comes into force, countries that have ratified it have to wait for a minimum of three years before they exit
Pressure is growing on the UK government to ratify the Paris deal immediately. A spokesman for prime minister Theresa May told the BBC the UK would ratify "as soon as possible", but without suggesting a date.
Following the US-China announcement, opposition parties say the UK has lost its long-term climate leadership, and that there is no good reason for further delay. Labour warns that, unless the ratification process is commenced right away, they will attack the government's climate policy failures in a Westminster debate on 7th September calling for immediate action.
Analysts believe ministers are delaying until they have a long awaited low carbon plan in place. The plan was due last year but postponed until late 2016 following sweeping cuts to clean energy incentives.