The UN Paris Climate Agreement has officially come into force this Friday, after fast tracked ratification from the European Union pushed it past the necessary threshold last month.
The Agreement was not expected to come into effect this early – less than a year after it was formally devised at the COP21 meeting in Paris last December. It has been described as an important turning point, both practically and symbolically, in the global battle against climate change.
The UN’s climate chief, Patricia Espinosa, said: “The Agreement is undoubtedly a turning point in the history of common human endeavour, capturing the combined political, economic and social will of governments, cities, regions, citizens, business and investors to overcome the existential threat of unchecked climate change,
“Its early entry into force is a clear political signal that all the nations of the world are devoted to decisive global action on climate change.”
The overarching aim of the deal is to limit global warming to a maximum of 2C, and ideally to below 1.5C. Different countries will have different commitments designed to facilitate global efforts towards this target, based on their capabilities. Given the speed with which the deal went from conception to implementation, there are still some details left to be ironed out with regard to specific commitments, ensuring that the deal’s targets can be met.
Many of these details will be worked out at the upcoming COP22 conference in Marrakesh starting on the 24th November. A government spokesperson was quoted by Business Green as saying that the focus for the Marrakesh conference will be on “really making sure that the discussions and negotiations around all the elements which will need to be in place for the Paris Agreement to be genuinely implementable are taken forward at pace, and are taken forward in the spirit of Paris.”
The Paris Agreement’s terms are expected to fully take hold in 2020, once those associated with its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, expire. As such, its coming into force this week is principally representative of a statement of intent more than anything else for the time being.
However, it’s speedy implementation also acts as an important contingency measure should Donald Trump win the US presidential election next week. He has, various times, signalled his desire to go back on the Paris Deal and pull America out of it. If he were to be elected, and if, by that point, the ratification threshold had not been passed, doing so would have been much easier while now, pulling out of the deal will be difficult.
The Confederation of British Industry published their latest Infrastructure Survey on Thursday this week, showing that some 83% of British business do not believe that the UK has the ability to meet the targets associated with the Paris Agreement.
While most business surveyed felt that British infrastructure has been improving at least since 2010, the outlook going forward was relatively pessimistic across the board, and particularly with regard to transport and energy infrastructure.
With this latest report, the CBI becomes the latest of several bodies to recommend that the UK rethink its energy and transport policies if climate commitments are to be upheld and if targets can bet reasonably expected to be met.