The Paris agreement on climate change on Friday was made into legislation, marking the first time that governments have agreed legally binding limits to global temperature rises.
Under the agreement, all governments that have ratified the accord, which includes the US, China, India and the EU, now carry an obligation to hold global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the limit of safety, beyond which climate change is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.
Andrew Norton, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, told The Guardian: “The voices of the people who will be hit hardest by the devastating impacts of climate change need to be heard. Governments must work to plan practical steps for the agreement’s implementation, and set out how climate finance can actually reach people in the poorest, most vulnerable countries.”
The Guardian quoted Harjeet Singh, global lead on climate change for the charity ActionAid, as saying: “The Paris agreement sends a much-needed signal to politicians and industry that we have to build a new world, and this has to start now. However, the deal is not enough to keep people and the planet safe.”
Next week, governments will meet in Morocco under the auspices of the United Nations to discuss how to put the Paris accord into force, and meet its aims.
Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s climate chief, and Salaheddine Mezouar, foreign minister of Morocco, said in a joint statement: “Humanity will look back on 4 November 2016 as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster and set off with determination towards a sustainable future.”