The landmark Paris climate accord went into effect on Friday, less than a year after 200 countries signed on to the accord last December. In order to come into force, the agreement had to be ratified by countries collectively responsible for 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. That threshold was passed on October 5th, allowing the agreement to go into effect 30 days later. At less than a year, this represents a quick ratification by the standards of international treaties, which can take years to ratify. The Kyoto Protocol took 8 years.
Still, about 100 countries have yet to ratify the agreement.
United Nations climate chief, Patricia Espinosa, said “This is a moment to celebrate, it is also a moment to look ahead with sober assessment and renewed will over the task ahead.”
“In a short time – and certainly in the next 15 years – we need to see unprecedented reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and unequaled efforts to build societies that can resist rising climate impacts,” she continued.
The Paris accord is a multifaceted agreement that has been called the most complex international treaty since 1994’s Marrakesh Agreement. Ultimately, the accord seeks to limit a global temperature increase to less than 2, or ideally 1.5, degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. The agreement commits governments to lower carbon emissions by moving away from fossil fuels, with an overall goal of weaning the world’s economy off of fossil fuels in the coming decades, to become carbon neutral by 2100. It stipulates a review of progress every five years, and calls for 100 billion dollars in climate finance for developing countries by 2020.
A UN review on Thursday showed that national pledges from governments who have ratified the deal so far would still fall short of the 2 degrees Celsius target, by at least a full degree.
“Even with the commitments made in Paris and encouraging action on the ground, we will not meet our aspiration of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees unless we move faster and at the scale that is needed,” said World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim.
The next round of U.N. climate talks will begin in Morocco on Monday, where discussion will focus on how to implement the specifics of the Paris agreement. On Tuesday, the United States presidential election will determine whether one of the world’s largest carbon emitters is likely to stick to the Paris agreement. Democrat Hilary Clinton supports the Paris agreement and Obama’s climate change measures, while Republican Donald Trump has said he would “cancel” the agreement, having expressed that manmade climate change is a ”hoax.”