On the 3rd of September, in a historic move, the two largest Green House Gas emitters in the world, the United States of America and China have officially ratified the Paris Agreement, paving the way for other countries to follow suit and support the collective Pacific call made in Paris to limit temperature rise to preferably under 1.5°C.
When 175 countries and parties officially signed the Paris Agreement on Earth Day, it marked a critical moment in the fight to end climate change. But signing the agreement in front of the cameras at the UN was only the first step. For the Paris Agreement to go into effect; it needs to be formally ratified by at least 55 countries that, together, contribute 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The US and China are two nations that together make up about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and have become the first major economies to formally accept the Paris Agreement.
“The ratification by the United States and China is indeed a strong statement and commitment. The first confirmation was made by US President Barrack Obama’s during his brief encounter with Pacific Leaders on 31 August, held at the East-West Centre in Hawaii. He confirmed that the United States will stand-by its Pacific friends and ratify the Treaty, and they will do so jointly with China” said PIDF Secretary General, François Martel.
“As the first two large nations to formally accept the Paris Agreement, the US and China have set a model for other countries both developed and developing around the world to follow,” he further added.
PIDF has for the last few years supported its members with their strong stand in global climate change negotiations particularly with the development of the Suva Declaration on Climate Change in the lead-up to negotiations at COP21 in Paris.
“The Leaders’ Summit held in Honiara on the 13th of July, gave us a clear mandate to keep pursuing this mission and to ´advocate early ratification of the Paris Agreement by member governments and the global community”, as outlined in PIDF’s work plan approved at the Summit, ”said the Secretary General.
The Secretary General expressed much concern at the low level of ratification of the Paris Agreement to date with only 26 countries and 40% of emissions but was also encouraged with the two major economies ratifying.
“There’s still more work to be done, as both countries now have to translate their nationally determined commitments in the agreement into action, including legislation and regulation. There are 29 countries that are still needed and 15% percent of global emission still needs to be covered,” he further added.
The PIDF Secretary General encouraged the remaining Pacific Island countries and like-minded countries to utilize the opportunity during an upcoming special session on the 21st of September which has been called by the United Nations Secretary General to join the parties who have already ratified the Paris Agreement.