By ANDREW QUINTANA / Staff Writer
Late September, history was close to being made as 31 countries signed the Paris climate agreement in New York at the UN general assembly, which allowed the agreement to pass its first of two thresholds. This led to United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to predict that the agreement will be fully ratified by the end of this year.
In order for the second threshold to be passed and therefore allow the agreement to go into effect, ratification by 55 nations which represent 55% of global emissions need to sign up. “I appeal to all leaders to accelerate domestic arrangements to join this year,” Ban said. “What once seemed impossible now seems inevitable. When this year ends, I hope we can all look back with pride knowing that we seized the opportunity to protect our common home.”
What these governments are agreeing to is to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The increase will be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, since this will reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. Germany, France, the entire EU, Canada, Australia and South Korea agreed to ratify the Paris agreement in the following months. If their promises hold up then the second threshold will be passed and go into effect.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was excited by this moment but remained cautious of the threat climate change still imposes on our planet. “Each day the planet is on this course, it becomes more dangerous,” Kerry said. “If anyone doubted the science, all they have to do is watch, sense, feel what is happening in the world today. High temperatures are already having consequences, people are dying in the heat, people lack water, we already have climate refugees.”
The US government agency announced that last August was the 16th month in a row that broke record temperatures, July being the hottest month since modern recording started back in 1880. This leads to analyses doubting that a severe cutback in emissions will actually have any affect on the environment at all. Climate campaigners however are optimistic of the pace that the Paris deal is being ratified. It brings hope that the world is finally willing to accept climate change and support efforts that reduce emissions and calm our warming planet. And as the global director of the World Resources Institutes climate program, Paula Caballero, said:
“Today we pause and celebrate the important progress towards bringing the Paris agreement into force. Then we again pick up our shovels and continue the hard work of creating a safer and more prosperous planet.”