AFP - A hard-fought pact to stave off worst-case-scenario global warming entered into force yesterday, after record-fast ratification by nations reassembling next week for a fresh round of UN climate talks.
Dubbed the Paris Agreement, it is the first-ever pact binding all the world’s nations, rich and poor, to a commitment to cap average global warming by curbing planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas.
“Humanity will look back on November 4, 2016, as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster,” UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa said.
While cause for celebration, “it is also a moment to look ahead with sober assessment and renewed will over the task ahead,” she said.
This meant drastically cutting emissions in the short term, “certainly in the next 15 years,” Espinosa pointed out a day after a UN report said current trends were steering the world towards climate “tragedy”.
By 2030, said the UN Environment Programme, annual greenhouse gas emissions will be 12 to 14 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) higher than the desired level of 42 billion tonnes.
The 2014 level was about 52.7 billion tonnes. 2016 is on track to become the hottest year on record, and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere passed an ominous milestone in 2015.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris as well as government and public buildings in Marrakesh, New Delhi, Sao Paulo and Adelaide, among others, were lit up in green yesterday to mark the entry into force of the historic pact.