- More than 30 countries yesterday agreed to ratify the Paris climate agreement, putting the accord on the brink of a threshold that would see it go into effect.
- For the agreement to enter into force, at least 55 of the signing parties, representing at least 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, are required to ratify the deal. Currently 60 countries representing 48% of emissions have signed on, and verbal commitments made by nations accounting for an additional 12%.
- Earlier this month, the United States and China—the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gasses—both agreed to ratify the historic Paris deal reached a year ago, when 195 countries called for aggressive action to address climate change.
The Paris climate accord has taken a significant step towards coming into force, with a total of 60 countries representing nearly half the world's carbon emissions signing on.
If nations representing another 12% of emissions follow through on verbal commitments made at a Wednesday ceremony, the historic deal will have enough support to officially come into force.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nationals Framework Convention on Climate Change, called it "is an extraordinary momentum by nations and a clear signal of their determination to implement Paris."
"Today we can say with ever more confidence that this historic moment is likely to come very soon, perhaps even by the time governments meet for the next round of climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco in November," she said in a statement.
Last year, 195 nations agreed to keep the impact of climate change below 2 degrees Celsius. For the United States, that would mean cutting emissions 26% by 2025.
For the U.S. power sector, the agreement isn't expected to beget a deal that will dramatically change the short-term outlook. Even so, analysts warned utilities to pay close attention to how world leaders produce decarbonization goals out to midcentury, as those decisions will shape their investments today.
Aside from the fact the power sector is one of the largest global greenhouse gas emitters, grid infrastructure is especially vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels and increasingly severe weather patterns are evolving as bigger risks to the aging U.S. electrical grid.
If the treaty enters into force, countries ratifying it would be bound to their commitments for four years. But since the agreement is non-binding and does not require Senate approval, the Times points out a future president could simply refuse to attend summits or implement the treaty with little recourse.
"Someday we may see this as the moment that we finally decided to save our planet," President Obama said in his remarks announcing the ratification agreement with China.
Among the more than two dozen countries agreeing this week to ratify the Paris agreement are: Brazil, Iceland, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates.