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Implementing The Paris Climate Agreement, Achievable By 2030?

Apr 25, 2016 01:14 PM EDT
UN Secretary General, Major Signatories Hold Press Conference On Paris Agreement
Last November 11, 2016, Pakistan authorities released a statement detailing their ratification of the Paris Agreement as reported by the Economic Times. The ceremony was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. To date, Pakistan is the 14th country to ratify the groundbreaking agreement.
(Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On Friday, more than 170 countries gathered at the United Nations to show their support for the deal to fight climate change signed at the UN climate summit in Paris last December. During which, economists and scientists warned that the treaty's goal of keeping temperatures below 1.5-2°C may already be slipping beyond reach, The Guardian reports.

As agreed upon by the representatives who attended the UN summit in Paris, each country is set to create their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), which lays out frameworks that would trim down global greenhouse gas emissions and deliberately slow down the effects of climate change by 2030, focusing on reaching a bottom-up agreement. During which, they also agreed that 2°C is the danger limit for global warming, thus countries should "pursue efforts" to limit warming to 1.5°C, above pre-industrial levels.

However, according to UN's own data, estimated warming as of 2015 for the period 2020-2030 is still at 2.7, which is far from the target.

"The average annual emission reductions for the period between 2030 and 2050 for least-cost scenarios that start in 2030 from emission levels consistent with the INDCs and bring back emissions to 2°C scenarios are estimated at 3.3 (2.7-3.9) per cent. This is around double the rate compared with the least-cost scenarios that assume enhanced mitigation action by 2010 or 2020, which require annual emission reductions of only 1.6 (0.7-2.0) per cent in the same period," the report said.

In a press release, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that March 2016 was the most abnormally warm month on record for the world. It is also the eleventh consecutive month in a row that the earth has recorded its warmest respective month on record.

"The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for March 2016 was the highest for this month in the 1880-2016 record, at 1.22°C (2.20°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This surpassed the previous record set in 2015 by 0.32°C / (0.58°F), and marks the highest monthly temperature departure among all 1,635 months on record, surpassing the previous all-time record set just last month by 0.01°C (0.02°F)," the press release said.

Climate change is usually gauged over years, but even scientists find the unprecedented temperatures alarming. This is a reminder of how dangerously close we now are to permanently hitting perilous territory.

A number of experts have also argued that world leaders have failed to recognise the massive challenge of seeking to phase out fossil fuels and running the entire world economy using clean energy by 2050, notes Antigua media.

Data from the New Climate Economy Report 2014 indicted that fossil fuel use will continue to grow, and so will its impact on the economy and the environment. "There is no imminent 'peak' that will slow this trend; the world is not 'running out' of fossil fuels," the report reads.

There are other challenges that are attached to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Initially, it is not a legally binding instrument in its entirety; meaning, the parties won't suffer direct consequences if they fail to execute their obligations. Therefore, the developed countries may not provide adequate funding to employ alleviation and adaptation activities for guaranteeing climate-resilient development.

As a result, developing countries would find it difficult to chase domestic mitigation and adaptation activities to deal with the unfavorable impacts of climate change. Unless developing countries can cope with the economic loss brought on by natural hazards often driven by climate change, sustainable development goals cannot be achieved.

How much the agreement reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and through that reduces warming, will depend on whether countries meet their targets for curbing emissions and deploying renewable energy and whether they ramp up their ambition in the years ahead, notes Grist's Ben Adler.

He also pointed out major loopholes on the INDC such as the above mentioned and even if they are met, they will not put the world on a path to less than 2°C of warming.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday called on the international community to take on the action on the new UN sustainable development agenda as we are on race against time.

In his own words, "The choice is yours."

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