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China ratifies Paris climate agreement


China ratifies Paris climate agreement

By Paul Homewood From the BBC: China’s top legislature has ratified the Paris global climate agreement, state news agency Xinhua reports. The country is the world’s largest emitter of harmful CO2 emissions, which cause climate change. China and the US are expected to jointly announce ratification at a bilateral summit later on Saturday. In a landmark deal struck in December, countries agreed to cut emissions enough to keep the global average rise in temperatures below 2C. Members of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee adopted “the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement” on Saturday morning at the end of a week-long session. The Paris deal is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement. It will only come into force legally after it is ratified by at least 55 countries, which between them produce 55% of global carbon emissions. But what exactly has been ratified? 1) For a start, the BBC clearly don’t understand the Paris Agreement when they say: In a landmark deal struck in December, countries agreed to cut emissions enough to keep the global average rise in temperatures below 2C. Whilst the Agreement aims to keep the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, no agreement was made to cut emissions to achieve this. Indeed, quite the opposite, as Paragraph 17 makes clear: The figure of 55 Gt is an increase of 12% on 2010’s level of 49 Gt. 2) As for China themselves, their INDC only promises to peak emissions by 2030, and reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% of 2005 levels. Because their economy has expanded so much since 2005, and is planned to grow much more up to 2030, their promise is likely to see emissions increase by at least 50% from current levels, (dependent of course on exactly how much economic growth there is). For full analysis, see here. 3) Furthermore, because it is still, inexplicably, classified as a developing country, Paris imposes no obligation, whether legal or moral, on China to reduce its GHG emissions. Barrister, Robin Guenier discussed this topic at length here. As he points out, Paragraph 4.4 of the Paris Agreement merely encourages them “to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances”. 4) Even for developed countries, there is nothing legally binding in the Agreement to enforce emission reductions. The relevant section is Article 4.4, which states: The key word is “should”, which means that it is not legally binding. The original draft read “shall”, which is binding. The USA delegation insisted that “shall” was replaced by “should”, as otherwise it would have been a legally binding treaty requiring ratification by Congress. Effectively, the only parts of the Paris Agreement which are binding concern the requirement to submit new nationally determined contribution every five years, provision of “support” (unquantified) to developing countries, and stocktaking of GHGs every five years. In short, nothing agreed at Paris, whether binding or not, will do anything to reduce global emissions prior to 2030. All it has succeeded in doing is kicking the can down the road for the next 15 years.

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