TGIF! Paris Climate Agreement Officially International Law

Guest Blog | November 4, 2016 | Climate Change, Energy Policy

Today, the historic Paris Agreement, our first global agreement to limit carbon emissions and keep the global average temperature increase below 20C, officially became international law. Happy Friday, Earth!

192 countries signed the historic agreement in Paris, including the United States, agreeing to reduce carbon pollution at the 2015 gathering of countries engaged in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To date, 97 countries have formally joined the Paris accord, or ratified the agreement, with more countries expected to officially jump on board in the coming weeks and months.

Because the countries who ratified the agreement account for more than two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris agreement could officially enter into force, as of Friday, November 4th. The speed at which the Paris agreement officially became law is something to celebrate in itself – given that it took the Kyoto Protocol seven years to go into effect.

United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki moon celebrated today’s milestone, praising groups that worked to mobilize hundreds of millions of people in the fight against climate change. SACE helped get out the message before the historic Paris conference with our Parlez-vous Climate? video series.

But there is still plenty of work to be done and it remains unclear what the actual effect of the Paris agreement will mean for climate change. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) found that despite emission reduction pledges under the Paris agreement, the world is still on track to see temperature rises above 3oC.  

Additionally, the Paris agreement is not legally binding, in that there are no repercussions for a country that fails to meet emissions reduction goals under the agreement. Although the Paris agreement is important in its recognition of the real global threat posed by climate change, it is still imperative for countries to move forward with their own carbon emission reduction measures, like the United States Clean Power Plan, to ensure we avoid the worst of the effects of climate change – and avoid an enormous human tragedy. 

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