When national representatives step forward to sign the Paris agreement today, they’d better remember that reaffirming their commitment to greenhouse gas reductions is just the first step in keeping their promises, writes Emmanuel de Guzman, secretary and vice-chair of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, on behalf of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.
“In signing this Paris Agreement on the dotted line, governments cannot forget the fine print that all states agreed to take steps towards a world where we limit warming to only 1.5°C,” de Guzman writes. “Despite momentum, huge and urgent follow-up action is required to live up to that promise.”
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The Climate Vulnerable Forum “fought tooth and nail to make the Paris agreement as ambitious as it is,” he notes on Huffington Post, and the 1.5°C commitment was the CVF’s most important victory. “Keeping warming below this level would preserve most of the world’s coral reefs and glaciers. It would limit the spread of vector-borne diseases exacerbated by climate change, slow the spread of poverty in my native Southeast Asia, and provide a boost to the world’s plans to meet the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals it signed in 2015.”
But if all countries do is sign and ratify the agreement, the world will still be headed toward 3.0° to 5.0°C average warming that “would create unbearable conditions for the one billion people who live in the member countries of our Forum,” de Guzman writes.
And even before that happens, “a massive increase in effort is already required to help those worst hit by climate change cope with the beginnings of these challenges. Under the new climate pact, obligations for financial support, technology sharing, and measures to compensate for the loss and damage suffered by vulnerable groups that barely pollute would skyrocket if we don’t halt the warming.”
That means “the swifter we move, the better off everyone will be,” and vulnerable nations “are doing our best to lead”: last week, finance ministers from the Vulnerable 20 Group promised to adopt domestic carbon pricing within 10 years, and “called for an international tax on financial transactions to help fund efforts to tackle climate change,” de Guzman notes.
“If small and poor countries can take such steps, any country can, especially developed countries who are expected to lead on emission cuts before 2020.”
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