US, China ratify Paris climate agreement ahead of G20 summit

The two biggest emitters account for 38 per cent of global green house gases, and China alone is emitting 20 per cent.

September 03, 2016 07:47 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 07:43 am IST

>China and the United States ratified the >2015 Paris agreement to cut global greenhouse gas emissions on Saturday, ahead of the G20 summit beginning Sunday in Hangzhou, China. This marks a major step toward the enactment of the pact making way for other countries to follow suit.

The world’s two biggest emitters account for 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with China, the G20 host, alone accounting for 20 per cent of emissions, as per data made available by Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan. A note put out by the organisations also point out that the pledges of China and United States to the Paris Agreement would deliver half of the agreement’s climate impact.

What the ratification delivers

The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of China and the United States would deliver 51 per cent of the avoided cumulative GHG emissions from 2016-2100 from all of the INDCs in the Paris Agreement. Of this, the U.S. would deliver 19 per cent, and China, 31 per cent of the avoided cumulative GHG emissions from 2016-2100. If both countries kept their pledges, 1050 giga tons (billion tons) of GHG would be kept out of the atmosphere, as per data provided by Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan.

Their calculations also show that deeper, earlier emissions cuts are needed to limit warming to well below 2°C or all the way to the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C. In one possible scenario to limit warming to 1.5°C, it would be necessary for the United States to decrease its emissions approximately 10 per cent per year, more aggressively than it pledged in its INDC, starting 2020. And China would need to peak its emissions by 2025, not 2030, and begin reducing emissions approximately 3.5 per cent per year thereafter.


“The world finally has a global climate agreement with both the U.S. and China as formal Parties. This signals a new era in global efforts to address climate change. Both countries now need to scale and speed up their efforts in charting a future that avoids the worst impacts of climate change,” said Jennifer Morgan Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

The G20 Summit now offers a testing ground for the world’s 18 other leading economies to display their commitment to Paris, Greenpeace International said in a statement. It also celebrated the fact that the U.S.-China ratification would help the Paris Agreement enter into force much earlier; the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, by comparison, took eight years to enter into force.

Lou Leonard, senior vice-president, climate & energy, for World Wildlife Fund, observed that by so quickly ratifying the Paris Agreement, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping are signalling to other countries that the Paris Agreement can come into force this year. “Even six months ago, this seemed an impossible idea. On the heels of designating the world’s largest marine protected area, President Obama is quite clearly running through the finish line of his presidency and solidifying his conservation and climate legacy along the way,” he said in a statement.

He further demanded that President Obama keep fossil fuels under the Arctic Ocean by removing the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from the Department of the Interior’s offshore drilling plan. “Risky drilling for dirty oil in one of the most pristine areas of the Arctic would be a blot on any climate legacy,” he said. He also demanded that the Obama Administration catalyse a coalition of countries under the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organisation to close a gaping loophole in the Paris Agreement by regulating emissions from the aviation industry, besides charting a course for long-term decarbonisation that ensures the U.S. does its fair share to meet the Paris Agreement’s global temperature goals.

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