Weekly Current Affairs

US, China ratify Paris climate agreement ahead of G20 summit [Environment]

  • China and US ratified 2015 Paris agreement to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. This marks a major step toward enactment of pact making way for other countries to follow suit.
  • The world’s two biggest emitters account for 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with China, the G20 host, alone accounting for 20 % of emissions. The pledges of China and United States to the Paris Agreement would deliver half of the agreement’s climate impact.
  • The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of China and the United States would deliver 51 per cent of the avoided cumulative GHG emissions from 2016-2100 from all of the INDCs in the Paris Agreement.
  • If both countries kept their pledges, 1050 giga tons (billion tons) of GHG would be kept out of the atmosphere.
  • Earlier emissions cuts are needed to limit warming to well below 2°C or all the way to the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C.
  • In one possible scenario to limit warming to 1.5°C, it would be necessary for the United States to decrease its emissions approximately 10 per cent per year, more aggressively than it pledged in its INDC, starting 2020. And China would need to peak its emissions by 2025, not 2030, and begin reducing emissions approximately 3.5 per cent per year thereafter.
  • The world finally has a global climate agreement with both the U.S. and China as formal Parties. This signals new era in global efforts to address climate change.
  • U.S.-China ratification would help the Paris Agreement enter into force much earlier; the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, took eight years to enter into force.
  • There is a demand that President Obama keep fossil fuels under the Arctic Ocean by removing the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from the Department of the Interior’s offshore drilling plan.
  • Risky drilling for dirty oil in one of the most pristine areas of the Arctic would be a blot on any climate legacy.
  • Also, the Obama Administration should catalyse a coalition of countries under the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organisation to close a gaping loophole in the Paris Agreement by regulating emissions from the aviation industry, besides charting a course for long-term decarbonisation that ensures the U.S. does its fair share to meet the Paris Agreement’s global temperature goals.