Major news on the climate change front over the past few days: the US, China, and India—largest projected emitters into the next several decades—have each agreed to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change on April 22, the first day they can do so. More than 190 countries agreed in principle at the UN climate change summit in Paris last December. The pact mandates a global action plan to limit world global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.56 degrees Fahrenheit), or below.
Presidents Obama of the US and Xi of China announced their commitments last Thursday. Currently the world’s largest atmospheric polluters (responsible for about 40% of emissions), these two nations have also pledged to “take their respective domestic steps in order to join the Agreement as early as possible this year,” and to urge other countries to do so as well. Their purpose is to bring the Paris Agreement into force as early as possible. To enact the Paris Agreement, 55 countries covering 55% of emissions must ratify it.
Both nations are planning agreements to limit aviation emissions and powerful hydrofluourocarbon greenhouses gases as well. Environment experts view the US-China commitment as a “strong signal” to other countries, similar to the surprise pre-UN pact between the two last November.
The White House describes the measures taken by the two-power partnership:
“Over the past three years, climate change has become a pillar of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. Both countries have taken strong measures at home to build green, low-carbon and climate-resilient economies, helping galvanize global action to combat climate change and culminating in the Paris Agreement reached last December. With their joint announcement of ambitious climate actions in November 2014, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping sought to lead by example, and by the time the Paris conference opened a year later, some 186 countries had put forward their own climate actions.
In September 2015, the two leaders laid out a common vision for the Paris outcome during President Xi’s State Visit to Washington and also announced major domestic policy measures and cooperative initiatives to combat climate change, as well as significant progress on climate finance. In Paris, the United States and China, working together and with others, played a critical role in crafting a historic, ambitious global climate change agreement.”
India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar announced at a symposium at the University of Mumbai Saturday that India will follow the course of the US and China:
“All countries have decided to walk the green path as per their common but differentiated responsibilities. India was always perceived to be a naysayer and negative in its approach and took a corner seat in most of the international conferences. But in Paris, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the concept of climate justice driving home the message of sustainable development.”
A new study by researchers at Oxford has found that 2017 is the limit for building new coal, oil-, or gas-fired power plants. Says Ed King in Climate Change News: the finding dispels “any notion governments may have over the window of time they have left to act.”
King also summarizes developments about current Saudi petroleum aims:
“Saudi Arabia, a kingdom predicated on oil production, is anticipating its end days by creating the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund from selling shares in its prized state oil company.”
Climate Home reveals a briefing note among Arab Group members that urges countries this bloc to hold off from signing. Their withheld signatures will sweeten the group’s political leverage toward the end of negotiations.
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