The global goal to pull global warming down to 2 degrees Celsius just got a major boost after the Paris agreement on climate change was ratified by 96 countries, effectively becoming part of international law.
The landmark deal built upon the Paris Accord approved by 200 countries last December 2015, which managed to secure world governments' commitment to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
"The Agreement is undoubtedly a turning point in the history of common human endeavor, capturing the combined political, economic and social will of governments, cities, regions, citizens, business and investors to overcome the existential threat of unchecked climate change," Patricia Espinosa, United Nations climate chief, said in an official statement.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also echoed Espinosa's sentiment during a meeting with civil society groups at UN's New York headquarters.
"We are still in a race against time. We need to transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future," Ban was quoted in a New York Times report. "Now is the time to strengthen global resolve, do what science demands and seize the opportunity to build a safer more sustainable world for all."
Countering Global Warming
The new law underpins a more aggressive push to cut greenhouse gases and support for initiatives that empower countries to resist climate change impacts. It addresses a recent World Meteorological Organization report that revealed how the global atmosphere reached the average of 400 parts per million greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide, breaking records in 2016. This figure, which could easily overshot the threshold, is driving man's collective failure to limit global warming to the level that is seen as teetering toward a dangerous tipping point. Once that milestone is breached, there is no going back because things will be beyond our ability to control.
The international climate change law primarily mandates the development of government-led national action plans, which have to be ready by 2018. These are expected to establish strong climate-friendly policies that are seen to effectively address global warming.
Climate Accord Goals
The new climate change law has been earning plaudits because it successfully passed contentious negotiations that spanned two decades. It is bringing countries such as China and India to the table, which, in tandem with the United States and the European Union, could help significantly reduce global greenhouse emissions to no more than the pre-industrial levels.
The law ultimately aims to reach the goal of zero emissions in a hopefully not-so-distant future wherein fossil fuels are permanently phased out.
Countries that ratified the new climate change law are legally bound to follow its provisions. Non-compliance will be met with accountability mechanisms such as a periodical increase in pledges.