By: Hannah Remmert
Within the last week, China, the United States, and Brazil have all ratified the Paris Agreement in a global effort to mitigate climate change.
You may recall an article that GreenHawks published last spring which questioned the Paris Agreement’s ability to create realistic solutions to mitigating climate change. One of the main problems with the Paris Agreement at the time was the lack of support shown by major countries responsible for a majority of the emissions, like the United States and China, who did not ratify the Agreement at that time.
This raised concern. Why should smaller countries who are producing a tiny fraction of the total global emissions spend the money and time to create new infrastructure and change the way their society functions, if larger countries can’t commit to doing the same? And if the smaller countries did follow through, how much of an impact would it even make on the amount of total emissions reduced if the largest emitters didn’t do their part?
However, the ratification system that was put into place will hopefully eliminate many of these potential problems. As stated on climateanalytics.org, “The Paris Agreement enters into force thirty days after ratification by at least 55 countries and by countries representing at least 55% of global emissions. It will become legally binding for those countries that sign and ratify it, once it has entered into force.”
Now that China (responsible for 20.09% of global emissions), the United States (responsible for 17.89% of global emissions), and Brazil (the largest emitter in Latin America, responsible for 2.48% of global emissions) have ratified, countries responsible for 39.10% of the total global emissions have committed.
Since this all happened in the last week, it’s likely that other countries will follow suit in the near future. Hopefully now that our global leaders have formally ratified, small countries will feel like ratification is a less risky move. Currently, 28 countries have ratified, which means we need 27 more countries who represent 10.90% of total emissions to ratify before the Paris Agreement will go into effect.
Dr. Sarah Dumyahn, lecturer in the Miami University Institute for the Environment and Sustainability, agrees that the recent ratifications have the potential to create positive change
“This is a really important step taken by both countries and it demonstrates the needed commitment to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. Having the two largest greenhouse gas emitters ratify before many others sends the right message that these countries are willing to be leaders in this issue. This is a very positive change from previous efforts at an international agreement, so I am optimistic that the Paris Agreement will serve as a turning point for international climate action.”
As President Obama said in his ratification remarks, “Someday, we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet.”
Mr. President, I hope you’re correct.