Scientists praised the speed at which the agreement, signed by 192 parties last December in Paris, has come into force, saying it underscores a new commitment by the worldwide community to address the problem which is melting polar ice caps, sending sea levels rising and transforming vast swaths of arable land into desert.
The authors said this is far beyond the 42 gigatonnes required to have a solid chance of remaining below 2 degrees by 2100, and not even close to the 39 gigatonnes required to keep to 1.5 degrees as was agreed to in Paris last December.
Following the historic announcement on 5 October by the United Nations that the threshold for ratification of the Paris Agreement had been achieved, leaders are now preparing to get down to business at the Sustainable Innovation Forum during COP22, co-convened by Climate Action in partnership with UNEP and the Moroccan Government.
"Today we make history in humankind's efforts to combat climate change", U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in NY.
"If we don't start taking additional action now, beginning with the upcoming climate meeting in Marrakesh, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy", Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said in a statement. "The science shows that we need to move much faster", Solheim added.
"The growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver".
Article 21, paragraph 1, of the Paris Agreement states that the worldwide climate deal will enter into force 30 days after the date on which at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval with the United Nations secretary general. According to preliminary studies, this could lead to a cut in 0.5°C if fully implemented, although significant reductions will not be realized until 2025.Collectively, members of the G20 are on track to meet their Cancun Agreements for 2020, but these pledges fall short of a realistic starting point that would align targets with the Paris Agreement. Yet the report finds that emissions continue to increase.
The wording on that was left vague in the Paris deal, which says all countries must report on their emissions and their efforts the reduce them, but allows for some "flexibility" for developing countries. These actors include the private sector, cities, regions, and other subnational actors.
Energy efficiency is another area the report highlights as bringing a potential cut to the emissions gap.
The report found that by 2030 the quantity of carbon dioxide coming into the atmosphere will be around 25 percent above the danger mark. Already investments into energy efficiency increased by 6% in 2015, reaching $221 billion.
The money is meant to help poorer nations shift from fossil fuels to clean energy and adapt to climate impacts that can't be avoided, such as rising seas in some places and intensifying heat waves and droughts in others.
Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC.