4 october 2016

The Paris climate agreement is entering into force. Now comes the hard part.

By Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis Washington Post, October 4 2016

The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ratify the Paris climate accord, a move that will make the sweeping international agreement a legal reality long before even those who negotiated it expected.


“The entry into force of the Paris agreement less than one year after its signature is a massive achievement, given that it took eight years for the Kyoto protocol,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement.

Throughout much of 2016, world leaders from President Obama to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have pushed to bring the Paris agreement into force as early as possible, with the United States and China leading the drive. But even as the accord was being negotiated last December in Paris, few expected that the world would ratify it so rapidly.

Now the focus inevitably shifts to more thorny issues — namely, how the world will actually get to a place where it’s possible to limit the warming of the planet to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as the Paris agreement calls for. It’s far easier for countries to sign onto an agreement on paper than it is for them to meet their pledges to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, let alone increase those ambitions over time.

Scientific observers broadly agree that the individual pledges made by countries under the Paris agreement are not strong enough to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Even as countries have moved rapidly to ratify the Paris accord, the window for hitting the agreement’s targets is closing. Or, according to the more pessimistic voices, it could already be closed.


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