A rush of countries, including mega-emitters China and the United States, have pledged to sign the December, 2015 Paris climate accord at the first possible opportunity, increasing the chances the pact will take effect two years earlier than United Nations negotiators once expected.
“You heard it here first: I think that we will have a Paris Agreement in effect by 2018,” Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in London, according to Bloomberg.
The Paris accord will enter into force 30 days after 55 countries, responsible for 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified or adopted it. Some 130 nations have pledged to sign the agreement at a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York on April 22—Earth Day, and the first day the agreement is open for signing.
Among the signatories, China and the U.S. alone account for 38% of global emissions. Ten of the countries, Figueres added, plan to ratify the pact on the same day. If others follow quickly, the pact could come into force far sooner than the anticipated date of 2020.
China and the United States have both committed to Paris ratification “as early as possible this year,” the Washington Post reports, raising speculation that U.S. President Barack Obama is eager to confirm the deal and leave his successor “a difficult time—or at least, a long wait—if he or she wanted to get out of it.”
If Paris comes into force while Obama is still in the Oval Office, “the next president could not withdraw until sometime in 2019, and the withdrawal would not be effective until sometime in 2020,” international environmental law scholar Daniel Bodansky told the Post.