The news that the USA and China have ratified the Paris Agreement is probably the best we’ve heard here at UBoC since 195 countries adopted it by consensus at the Parc des Expositions on the 12th of December last year. (See Piers’ blog at the time).
The totaliser now shows that 180 have since signed, and 26 have formally ratified. And while 26 out of 195 may seem paltry, because China (20.09%) and USA (17.89%) are the world’s two largest emitters, (the third would actually be food waste, but that’s another story) these 26 represent 39% of global emissions; a fair step towards the ‘double threshold’, which requires both 55% of emissions and 55 countries to be committed before L’Accord de Paris finally becomes legally and globally binding.
However, apart from these two giants, most of the other ratifiers are tiny, with the vast majority at imminent risk from rising sea levels or other climate dangers: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cameroon, Cook Islands, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nauru, Norway, Palau, Palestine, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Somalia and Tuvalu – few score above one percent, and most fall well below.
So when will us bigger carbon culprits commit? Australia (1.46%), Brazil (2.48%), Canada (1.95%), Germany (2,56%), Iran (1.3%), Italy (1.18%), Japan (3.79%), Mexico (1.7%), Poland (1.06%) Republic of Korea (1.85%), Russian Federation (7.53%) and UK (1.55%) are all dragging their feet.
But it was not so long ago that Britain was actually leading the pack – literally in the case of David Cameron’s famous husky-hugging trip to the Artic in 2006, and his (in)famous promise to lead the greenest government ever (demolished rather neatly here by The Guardian)
According to BBC Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin, Ministers may be delaying the process until they can finally announce their long-awaited low carbon plan – due last year, but scuppered by Osborne’s sudden and inexplicable stable-broom for ‘green cr*p.’ And now Nick Hurd, Minister for Climate Change, announces that they won’t be releasing their fifth carbon budget until next year.
Meanwhile in the UK the Green Deal is a busted flush, electric cars are stalled, CCS remains a pipe-dream, Hinckley breaks the toes of all who kick it, and the mitigation of flooding with carbon-guzzling trees – something UBoC is especially keen to encourage – is stuck on a slow-wash cycle.
Yet the news from the Arctic, the Amazon, Spain, East and West Coast USA, Indonesia, the stratosphere, southern oceans, the great barrier reef – most places you look, is unremittingly scary, while life gets harder for our friends working to protect and restore the rainforests which store almost a quarter of the world’s land-based carbon, and convert massive quantities of carbon dioxide into life-supporting oxygen.
The Paris ambition of 1.5 degrees is looking ever more rose-tinted.
We need to act now and act fast. As Piers said in his guest blog on Carbon Brief last year:
“1.5C means we will require everything in our arsenal: renewable energy, nuclear power, a dash from coal to gas, zero-carbon transport, energy efficiency, housing changes, low-carbon thermal heating and cooling systems. Even international aviation and shipping that were excluded from this report will need to be tackled within the next few years. In particular, we will need large amounts of afforestation and carbon capture and storage.”
And we need to ratify Paris.
Come on Mrs May. Time to get a shift on. Please?