Parties taking steps to ratify the Paris Agreement
18 July 2016: As focus turns towards national implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, The Elders released a statement calling on governments to act in accordance with the Agreement's vision. The 'Elders Statement on Climate Change' was released in the context of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which met from 11-20 July 2016, in New York, US, to review national action towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A number of recent news items on national climate action have implications for both the Paris Agreement and SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts).
The Elders Statement expresses concern that none of the top 10 greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters have ratified the Paris Agreement. The Elders welcome those that have announced they will ratify by the end of the year, including the fourth-largest emitter, India, which hosted a National Conference on Post-Paris Climate Action in New Delhi on 12 July 2016. Prakash Javadekar, India's Minister of Human Resource Development and formerly Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, told conference participants that India could overachieve its climate targets. The country plans to reduce its emissions intensity by 33%-35% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030, according to its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC).
Javadekar also emphasized that India is on track to meet it goals to lower emissions intensity by 20% by 2020, and is thus setting its sights on a 35% reduction even as its economy grows. He indicated that coal will continue to be a “mainstay,” but highlighted a coal tax of US$6 per ton of production. He described a number of other national climate initiatives that show "the way forward" to help the country achieve its goals, including energy efficiency, clean cooking fuels and renewables programmes. [Minister of Human Resource Development Remarks (Video)] [IISD RS Story on India's INDC]
Another major emitter, Brazil, has started domestic steps to ratify the Paris Agreement. On 12 July, lawmakers in Brazil's lower house voted unanimously to approve the text of the Paris Agreement. In the next steps toward full ratification, Brazil's Senate will analyze the Agreement. If the Senate votes in favor, the text will come before the President for final approval. [Brazilian House of Representatives Press Release (Portuguese)] [House of Representatives Decree Approving the Paris Agreement Text]
The US, which also plans to ratify the Agreement this year, announced a package of measures on 19 July for the Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative. The Initiative is a partnership among the US Departments of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Among the executive actions announced, many of which have a low-income focus, are a community solar challenge, a solar training network, and financial assistance for residential energy efficiency measures. In addition, commitments to deploy 145 megawatts (MW) of community solar projects were announced by 25 members of the National Community Solar Partnership. [White House Press Release]
However, these countries, and many others, continue to subsidize fossil fuels to the detriment of their climate goals, according to The Elders. Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, and member of The Elders, pointed to the UK and Germany as examples of countries that continue to provide tax breaks and/or other policy mechanisms that support fossil fuels. A report released on 12 July indicates that the UK is subject to significant risks from unmitigated climate change. The Adaptation Sub-Committee of the UK's Committee on Climate Change (CCC) authored the 'UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017' (CCRA). According to their findings, communities in the UK likely will face flooding and coastal change, shortages in public water supply, risks to natural capital, and new and emerging pests and diseases. High temperatures also will threaten communities' health, well-being and productivity, according to the report. On positive effects of climate change, the CCRA finds that opportunities may arise for UK agriculture and forestry to increase production and for businesses to export adaptation-related goods and services. [Elders Statement on Climate Change] [Elders Press Release] [Elders Website] [CCC Press Release] [UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017: Synthesis Report]
Another island State, the Philippines, hinted at possible rejection of the Paris Agreement through remarks by President Rodrigo Duterte during a speech to the country's Olympic athletes on 18 July. Noting that it is not his signature on the Paris Agreement, the President expressed the view that the Paris Agreement is being imposed by developed countries to stymie the growth of developing economies. However, on 25 July in his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte underlined that addressing climate change will be "our top priority, but upon a fair and equitable equation," adding that addressing climate change cannot come at the expense of the Philippines' industrialization. [President's Remarks at Olympian Event (Video)] [President's State of the Nation Address (Video)]
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change at a special event on 21 September 2016. The event will also provide an opportunity for other countries to publicly commit to joining or ratifying the Agreement by the end of 2016, and is aimed at helping to ensure early entry into force.
The Paris Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55% of global GHG emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance.