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The Paris climate treaty: a snapshot

By AFP
December 03, 2018

PARIS: The 2015 Paris Agreement is the first pact under which all nations commit to taking actions to curb global warming, caused mainly by emissions from burning coal, oil and gas.

Key facts about the agreement: A total of 196 governments, including the Palestinian Authority, have endorsed the landmark deal and 183 have officially ratified it as of December 1. International agreements can be signed, but only become binding through ratification.

The accord -- which becomes operational in 2020 -- entered into force in November 2016 when it crossed the threshold of 55 ratifying parties representing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The world´s top carbon polluters, in descending order, are China, the United States, the European Union, and India. The biggest polluter not to have ratified the deal is Russia, which ranks 5th. Turkey and Iran have also failed to ratify.

The agreement allows parties to quit, but notice can be given only three years after entry into force. Withdrawal would take effect a year later. In June 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would pull out. Under treaty rules, that cannot formally take place until November 4, the day after the next US presidential election.

A country can also withdraw from the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under whose authority the deal was negotiated. Withdrawal takes effect a year after notification, which can be given at any time.

Nations have agreed to hold global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and to strive for a lower limit of 1.5C, if possible. A major report from the UN´s science advisory body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), concluded in October that the 1.5C cap is technically feasible but would require a rapid and wholesale transformation of the global economy.

Even the two-degree ceiling is a huge challenge, according to the IPCC, which calculated that emissions must drop 40-to-70 percent by 2050 compared to 2010 levels to hit that target. Signatories have undertaken to ensure that global emissions peak "as soon as possible". They rose in 2017, and are on track to go up again this year.

Voluntary national pledges annexed to the treaty would see the planet warm by at least 3C, a recipe for catastrophic floods, heatwaves, drought and storm surges made worse by sea level rise, say scientists. Starting in 2020, countries will take stock every five years of their collective progress in curbing global warming, with an eye toward boosting national efforts to cut emissions.