Peter Christoff writes in The Conversation (4.11.16) about how the rapid ratification of the Paris climate agreement looks set to heap even more pressure on Australia to come up with a credible climate policy.
‘The Paris climate agreement comes into legal force today, just 11 months after it was concluded and 30 days after it met its ratification threshold of 55 parties accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
‘By contrast, the Kyoto Protocol, which this treaty now replaces, took more than 8 years to come into force, slowed by the United States’ persistent and erosive opposition.
‘At the time of writing, the Agreement has been ratified by 94 parties, including the world’s four largest emitters: China, the United States, the European Union and India. As Climate Analytics reports, these nations account for 66% of greenhouse emissions. Even if the United States were to withdraw its support under a Trump presidency, the Paris Agreement will remain in force.
‘The unprecedented speed with which this has been achieved reflects the acute realisation in the international community – following the debacle of the Copenhagen negotiations in 2009 – that a failure to land this treaty quickly would probably have led to the collapse of the United Nations climate regime.
‘… Australia is expected to ratify the Agreement later this year. When it does so, it will be committing itself to regularly increasing its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, improve climate adaptation, and provide climate finance.
‘Like other nations, Australia will have to review and toughen its climate targets every five years, starting no later than 2020, and report back regularly on its efforts.
‘While Australia’s 2020 and 2030 emissions targets are seen as weak by international standards, doubts have still been expressed about the federal government’s ability to reach them.’