Signing Treaties
Paris Climate Agreement Not Yet a Done Deal

The United States and China made news today by announcing that the two countries—which together make up about half of the world’s carbon emissions—would later this month sign the climate treaty negotiated in Paris this past December. Reuters reports:

The world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters issued a joint presidential statement in which they called on other countries to sign the accord next month “with a view to bringing the Paris Agreement into force as early as possible.” […]

[T]he Paris climate agreement needs at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions to formally accede to it before it can enter into force.

With the U.S. and China on board, the 55 percent of emissions threshold won’t be hard to hit, but there appear to be some speed bumps on the road to 55 countries signing on. As Climate Home reports, some developing countries are being urged to hold off on signing the Paris treaty immediately, fearful that doing so will forfeit valuable leverage:

Developing countries should refuse to sign the Paris climate agreement until they receive stronger assurances on finance, technology and compensation for damage from extreme weather. That’s the key recommendation in a five-page briefing from an influential Malaysia-based think tank sent to members of the Arab Group of nations last week.

“It will be more advantageous to developing countries to wait this year and not rush into signing of the PA [Paris Agreement],” says the note, written by Meena Raman from Third World Network.

The fact that the world’s two largest emitters are planning to sign the treaty means that, in all likelihood, it’s going to go into effect sooner rather than later. But it appears that even that may end up being less than meets the eye, if the developing world is being queasy.

And zooming out, as loyal readers know we don’t tire of pointing out, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the game-changer environmentalists hoped it would be. Lacking any enforcement mechanisms beyond “naming and shaming,” there’s precious little incentive for countries to make the kinds of deep cuts greens say are necessary to stave off the worst effects of climate change. After all the hype heaped on the Paris summit last year, the treaty’s denouement is looking, well, disappointing.

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