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Signing the Paris Climate Agreement is easy – what comes next for Australia will be hard

Tim Stephens writes in The Conversation (21.4.16) about the challenges facing the nation’s legislators after Australia signs on to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

‘Tomorrow, world leaders and diplomats will converge on the United Nations’ New York headquarters to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change. It will be the largest UN signing event in history, with representatives from at least 162 countries, including more than 60 heads of state, on hand to sign the historic deal that was struck last December.

‘Signing is just the first step. Nations then have to follow through by ratifying the agreement. Only when 55 countries, representing at least 55% of world greenhouse emissions, have signed and ratified the agreement will it become binding under international law.

‘Such is the eagerness among the international community to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement that it is quite possible it could enter into force this year, rather than in 2020 as was initially expected.

‘As 2016 continues to smash global heat records, there is a renewed sense of urgency among almost all governments. They now acknowledge that greenhouse emissions must be reduced rapidly if there is any hope of meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming well below 2℃.’

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