Time for serious climate action – The Paris Agreement on climate change comes in to force.

The world’s first global agreement on climate change comes into force today (Friday 4th November 2016) with the aim of limiting the impacts of climate change.

The deal was signed in April this year by 170 countries, and it was then ratified by their respective parliaments.  All governments that have ratified the agreement, which include the US, China, India and the EU, now carry an obligation to hold global warming to no more than 2oc above pre-industrial levels. This is regarded by scientists as the limit of safety, beyond which climate change is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible. The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that emissions would have to come down by between 40% to 70% for the 2oc goal to be achieved.

The pledges to cut emissions put forward to date will not cut temperature global temperature increases sufficiently.  A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said that the current proposals would see temperatures rise by 3oc above pre-industrial levels, far above the 2oc agreed in Paris. At least a quarter must therefore be cut from emissions by the end of the next decade compared to current trends.  UNEP also states that very large-scale reallocations of investment are necessary. UN estimates show that achieving sustainable development will require USD $5-7 trillion a year, a large slice of which must fund the transition to a low-carbon, resilient world economy.

Positive global action on climate change is gaining momentum following this agreement.  World leaders will meet next week in Morocco for the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) to discuss how to put the climate change agreement into force.  It is expected that the conference will accelerate work and establish a definable pathway for developed countries and to start the flow of funds ($100billion per year) by 2020 in support of climate action by developing countries.

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