Global Climate Change Treaty Enters into Force

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In short
The appeal by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP comes at the coming into force of the Paris Agreement, today November 4. The Paris agreement, signed at the end of last year in France, seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.

Countries have been urged to 'dramatically' step up their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions - by some 25 per cent more than those pledged in Paris last year in order to tame the global temperature rise.

The appeal by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) comes at the coming into force of the Paris Agreement, today November 4. The Paris agreement, signed at the end of last year in France, seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.

It asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It also requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise.

But UNEP has observed as part of its annual Emissions Gap report that emissions are expected to reach 54 to 56 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. The projected level needed to keep global warming from surpassing 2 degrees is 42 gigatonnes.

Scientists around the world agree that limiting global warming to 2 degrees centigrade this century would reduce the probability of severe storms, longer droughts, rising sea levels and other devastating climate-related events. However, they caution that even a lower target of 1.5 degrees centigrade will reduce rather than eliminate impacts.

Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of UNEP, said in a new release that while the Paris Agreement and the recent Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to reduce hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), are steps in the right direction, the strong commitments are nevertheless still not enough.

"If we don't start taking additional action now […], we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy. The growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver," he said.

That stark warning echoed his call from the report's forward, where he said: "None of this will be the result of bad weather. It will be the result of bad choices by governments, private sector and individual citizens. Because there are choices […] the science shows that we need to move much faster."

Ugandan Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda says that as the Paris agreement comes into force, countries will need to adopt mechanisms that will protect and save the planet for the present and future generations.

The annual Emissions Gap report has found that through technology and opportunity assessments, a number of ways for States and non-State actors to implement further cuts that would make the goals achievable, including energy efficiency acceleration and crossover with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

2015 was the hottest year ever recorded and the first six months of 2016 have thus far broken all prior records. Yet the report finds that emissions continue to increase.

 

About the author

Sylvia Nankya
Sylvia is an Editor and Media Trainer with Uganda Radio Network. She has been a URN staff member since 2013. Sylvia has previously worked as a reporter and news anchor with Radio One (2001-2009) and with Vision Group (2009-2011). Six of her active years in Journalism were spent covering the Parliament of Uganda.

Over the past few years, Sylvia has worked to promote the positive development of societies recovering from conflict through training journalists on choices of stories, how they report issues and use of appropriate language in covering conflict and post-conflict situations.

She is an Alumni of RNTC- Holland, Les Aspin Centre for Government at Marquette University-WI, USA and a Community Solutions Fellow.