The historic Paris climate pact dashed across the ratification finish line on Wednesday to diplomatic cheers.
“A turning point for the planet,” US President Barack Obama said.
“A defining moment for the global economy,” said Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever and chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
However, the cold, hard reality of what is needed to fulfill the agreement’s pledges will soon bite, experts warned.
Its accelerated entry into force was driven by many things, including the prospect of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — who has described global warming as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese — winning the White House.
The rapid, joint ratification by China and the US also set an example hard to ignore, but the main impetus for locking in the deal was clearly the growing sense of urgency about the looming threat of climate change.
“Time is absolutely of the essence,” Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan said. “The question is not ‘whether,’ it is ‘how fast.’”
Almost daily, global warming red flags are popping up.
Every month so far this year has set a temperature record and this year is on track to supplant last year as the hottest ever registered.
Scientists have forecast that average global temperatures — already 1?C above the preindustrial benchmark — could sail past 1.5?C within a decade and 2?C by mid-century.
A maelstrom of superstorms fueled by rising seas, deadly floods and drought prompted the world’s nations to lower the threshold for dangerous warming in the Paris pact to “well below” 2?C.
Reaching that target will require a breakneck, wholesale shift across the globe away from fossil fuels.
Even that will not be enough: We will have to learn how to suck carbon out of the air, scientists say.
The Paris accord’s early validation comes just in time to take center stage at high-level UN talks in Marrakesh next month tasked with translating its planet-saving vision into policy.
It could also accelerate the process.
“This shifts the focus to implementation and strengthening the commitments under the agreement,” said Alden Meyer, a veteran climate analyst at the Washington-based Union for Concerned Scientists.
Nations have informally set a 2018 target for hammering out more than 100 concrete rules and procedures embedded in the climate pact — some of them highly contentious. Originally, the agreement left open a four-year window for that process.
“Many details need to be ironed out before implementation can begin,” said Harjeet Singh, head of climate change for ActionAid.
They include rules for reporting and verification of emissions cuts, how to disburse hundreds of billions of dollars to climate-vulnerable developing nations and the establishment of new market mechanisms.
Even more important, 2018 is shaping up to be a crucial “political moment” when nations will feel pressure to revise and deepen pledges to slash carbon emissions.
At their current level, these so-called “nationally determined contributions” — which do not begin until 2020 — fall woefully short of the target and would result in an unlivable 3?C warmer planet by the end of the century.
Bolstered by a special report from the UN’s climate science panel, to be completed by mid-2018, the world’s major greenhouse-gas emitters will also be expected to deliver detailed national plans, or “pathways,” for economic transformation through 2050.
“If you are going to achieve the objectives in Paris, you need a north star that gives you the direction of travel,” said Meyer, adding that the US, Germany and Canada have taken the lead.
That north star will likewise be visible to corporations and business leaders.
The new treaty “sends an unmistakable signal to business and investors that the global transition to a low-carbon economy is urgent, inevitable and accelerating faster than we ever believed possible,” Polman said.
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
On Sunday last week, in a nondescript building in the Indian city of Gwalior, 322km south of Delhi, a large crowd of men gathered. Most wore bright saffron hats and scarves, a color evoking Hindu nationalism, and many held strands of flowers as devotional offerings. They were there to attend the inauguration of the Godse Gyan Shala, a memorial library and “knowledge center” dedicated to Nathuram Godse, the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi. The devotional yellow and pink flowers were laid around a black and white photograph of Godse, the centerpiece of the room. On Jan. 30, 1948, Godse stepped out in
CAN ‘STILL DREAM’: Lai Chi-wai said he hoped the event would send the message that people with disabilities can ‘bring about opportunity, hope’ Lai Chi-wai (黎志偉) became the first person in Hong Kong to climb more than 250m of a skyscraper while strapped into a wheelchair, as he pulled himself up for more than 10 hours on Saturday to raise money for spinal cord patients. The 37-year-old climber, whose car accident 10 years ago left him paralyzed from waist down, could not make it to the top of the 300m-tall Nina Tower on the Kowloon peninsula. “I was quite scared,” Lai said. “Climbing up a mountain, I can hold on to rocks or little holes, but with glass, all I can really rely on is