Pakistan inks climate change accord
UNITED NATIONS – Pakistan on Friday signed the Paris Agreement on climate change that commits nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of global warming.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan inked the agreement on behalf of the Government of Pakistan at a high-level ceremony in the spacious hall of UN General Assembly.
In doing so, the minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to the “historic” Paris agreement, adopted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-21), where 195 countries endorsed the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal in December last.Friday’s ceremony – also making the Earth Day – was convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degree Celsius.It is due to come into force in 2020.
More than 155 countries signed the agreement in the packed Assembly hall where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received the loudest applause.
In contrast, the Israel Environment Minister signed the accord as the delegates watched in silence.
Before the ceremony, Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio used presence to stress the need to take climate change seriously, calling it “the most urgent threat facing our entire species.” Pakistan joined the consensus in Paris in line with its firm commitment to the purposes and objective of the Climate Convention.Although Pakistan’s contribution to global warming is very little, it is extremely vulnerable to its adverse impacts, as overall temperature has increased.
According to a number of international studies, Pakistan is categorised as one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change, including droughts, desertification, sea level rise, and glacial melt.
Pakistan is among the top 10 countries on the German Watch climate risk index – its 5000 glaciers are in retreat, retreating faster than in any other part of the world.Already a water-stressed country, climate change is likely to further exacerbate the challenge, with the increasing frequency of large floods causing huge loses to lives and livelihoods of poor people.Besides tragic human and material cost, these threats also impede Pakistan’s ability to promote sustainable growth and development, and ensure economic prosperity for the people.
Estimates suggest that trillions of dollars are needed globally to effectively respond to climate change implementation Pakistan needs $14 billion annually to adapt to climate change impacts and its mitigations needs are similarly higher.Excerpts say fulfillment of international financial obligations, particularly of reaching target of $100 billion, is extremely important.
AFP adds: A record 175 countries, including the world’s top polluters China and the United States, signed the Paris climate deal, boosting hopes of quick action on combating global warming.
French President Francois Hollande was the first leader to put his signature to the accord during a ceremony at the United Nations, followed by leaders from island-states hardest hit by climate change.
US Secretary of State John Kerry came to the podium cradling his two-year-old granddaughter Isabelle and triggered warm applause from delegates as he signed the historic deal.
It was the largest ever one-day signing of an international agreement.
Held on Earth Day, the ceremony comes four months after the hard-won deal was clinched in Paris and marks a first step toward binding countries to the promises they made to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is a moment in history,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly.“Today you are signing a new covenant with the future.”
Holdout countries still have a year to sign the deal, but the focus has now turned to swift ratification and entry into force before the target date of 2020
The Paris agreement will come into force when 55 countries responsible for 55 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases have ratified it.
Together the signatories at the UN ceremony account for 93 percent of global greenhouse gases, according to calculations by the World Resource Institute.
France’s parliament will give final approval before this summer, Hollande said, urging the 28-nation European Union to “lead by example” and ratify the deal before the end of the year
Momentum is building to ensure the agreement enters into force quickly.
China and the United States said they will ratify this year and are pushing for others to follow suit so that the agreement becomes operational possibly as early as late 2016 or in 2017.
Caught in election-year turmoil, the United States plans to ratify the Paris accord with an executive agreement, bypassing the Senate and setting up a complex process for any future president wishing to pull out
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would ask parliament next month to endorse the accord with a vote this year and pledged to help developing countries confront the challenge.
“They shouldn’t be punished for a problem they didn’t create nor should they be denied the opportunities of clean growth,” said Trudeau, drawing loud applause.
Actor and environmental campaigner Leonardo DiCaprio urged leaders on, telling them: “The world is now watching”.“You will either be lauded by future generations or vilified by them,” he said.
A total of 15 countries or parties, most of them island-states, formally presented the completed ratification to the United Nations.
“Some may say it’s only a small step We need to make it a huge one,” said the prime minister of the Polynesian island of Tuvalu, Enele Sosene Sopoaga.
Agreed by 195 nations, the Paris deal sets the goal of limiting global warming to “well below” 3.
6 degrees Fahrenheit (two Celsius) above pre-industrial levels, by moving to clean energy.
Ban stressed that the window for keeping the global temperature rise in check was rapidly closing.
Last month was the hottest March in modern history and 2016 is shaping up as a record-breaking year for rising global temperatures.
This year’s El Nino – dubbed “Darth Nino” – is wreaking havoc, with droughts, floods, severe storms and other extreme weather patterns.
The signing ceremony was seen as a triumph for Ban, who pushed for the deal throughout his tenure and has listed the agreement in Paris as one of his proudest moments as UN chief.