After a special ceremony at the United Nations on September 21, 2016, with 31 nations participating, the U.N. announced that 60 countries representing 48% of GHG emissions had formally joined the Paris Agreement. Brazil had already ratified on September 13, and Theresa May, Britains’s new Prime Minister, had also pledged to ratify the agreement before the end of the year. Video messages from nations including Germany, France, the EU, Canada, Australia and South Korea all promised to ratify the Paris accord in the coming months. Importantly, a Reuters report on September 25 states that India, representing approximately 4% of global emissions, will ratify the agreement on October 2, the anniversary of Ghandi’s birthday. See also the Times of India report . Watch the Paris Agreement Tracker for the status of ratification as the world pushes to reach the trigger point of 55 nations which produce 55 percent of the global carbon dioxide pollution.
Where does Canada, responsible for approximately 1.9% of emissions, stand? Text of Justin Trudeau’s speech at the United Nations on September 20 focused more on the needs of Syrian refugees than on our climate commitments. Official statements have not been forthcoming, but interviews indicate “Canada to ratify Paris climate deal while still working on national plan” (CBC, Sept. 16). Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is scheduled to meet her provincial and territorial counterparts on October 3 in Montreal to discuss the options put forward by the four working groups formed at the Vancouver meetings last April. Their recommendations were due by the end of September. On September 18, the Globe and Mail reported that the federal government may impose a national carbon price plan, and that the emissions reduction target will not exceed that of the previous Conservative government: 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. See also “Federal government sends mixed messages on how provinces can price carbon” from the National Observer (September 25) for an update.
Parliament has now returned from summer recess, but a meeting between the Prime Minister and the premiers is not expected before the COP22 UN climate conference in Marrakech, Nov. 7-18.
Not only scientific urgency is pushing the recent global rush to ratify . On September 20, 2016, 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., including 30 Nobel laureates, published an Open Letter warning that the consequences of opting out of the Paris agreement would be severe and long-lasting for the planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States. “The political system also has tipping points. Thus it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. A “Parexit” would send a clear signal to the rest of the world: “The United States does not care about the global problem of human-caused climate change. You are on your own.” Such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.”