After the European Union (EU) formally joined the Paris Agreement this week, the global climate deal is set to enter into force much earlier than almost anyone had anticipated.
The U.S., China, India and other nations recently ratified the Paris Agreement, and the EU vote pushed the deal past its last required threshold. According to a United Nations tracker website, at least 74 parties accounting for 58.82% of global greenhouse-gas emissions have now joined the climate agreement – meeting the requirements of 55 parties representing 55% of global emissions needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force. Although the 55-party requirement was previously met, the EU vote is what put the emissions percentage over the edge; the Paris Agreement will now enter into force on Nov. 4, just ahead of the upcoming COP22 climate negotiations in Morocco.
At last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), more than 190 countries signed on to adopt the Paris Agreement, what the White House called “the most ambitious climate change agreement in history.” Specifically, the agreement sets a goal of keeping a global warming increase well below 2 degrees C and pursues efforts to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees C.
During a press conference on Wednesday, President Barack Obama marked the historic moment in the battle against climate change. He said the Paris Agreement represents “the idea that no nation, not even one as powerful as ours, can solve this challenge alone. All of us have to solve it together.”
Obama noted, “Now, the Paris Agreement alone will not solve the climate crisis. Even if we meet every target embodied in the agreement, we’ll only get to part of where we need to go. But make no mistake, this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.
“It will help other nations ratchet down their dangerous carbon emissions over time, and set bolder targets as technology advances – all under a strong system of transparency that allows each nation to evaluate the progress of all other nations. And by sending a signal that this is going to be our future – a clean energy future – it opens up the floodgates for businesses, and scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation at a scale that we’ve never seen before. So this gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we’ve got.”
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Global momentum for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2016 has been remarkable. What once seemed unthinkable is now unstoppable.”
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, has praised the development.
“Signed, sealed, and delivered. After years of tireless dedication and work toward an international climate deal, the Paris Agreement has finally jumped off the page and into reality,” said Brune in a statement.