Paris climate change deal on verge of ratification

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (UPI) — The Paris climate agreement is nearly ready for legal enforcement, the office of Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary general, hinted in anticipation of a Wednesday announcement.

At the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, 31 countries formally agreed to the deal, including oil-rich Brazil, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, as well as Kiribati and Bangladesh, two countries regarded as vulnerable to potential sea level rise. The United States has enthusiastically endorsed the deal.

The agreement, reached in Paris in 2015, specifies a threshold for enforcement, that it is ratified by 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions. Wednesday’s pledges indicate 60 countries, representing 47.7 percent of emissions, have signed on. With the first of three thresholds reached, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry predicted the pact will be implemented within months.

“We are absolutely certain that we will have the Paris agreement entering into force by the end of 2016,” said David Nabarro, a special adviser to Mr. Ban.

The speed with which the agreement has neared ratification has surprised diplomats. Ban sees the pact as the capstone of his diplomatic career, the New York Times said Tuesday, and has pressed the issue with dozens of world leaders and legislative bodies. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to walk away from the agreement if elected, which can be seen as another reason for Ban’s urgency. Under the rules it would take four years for the United States to formally withdraw, keeping the United States obligated to uphold the deal until the end of the next president’s first administration.

The climate change agreement broadly calls for a limit to global temperatures to rise no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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