Paris Climate Change Agreement Goes Into Force

Australia yet to ratify accord; UN warns that the world is not on track to achieve temperature rise goals

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 4, 2016) – The United Nations warns the world is not on track to achieve temperature goals set in the landmark Paris climate change agreement, which has started to come into effect.

As clocks passed midnight into Friday, remote islands in the Pacific Ocean, many in danger of rising seas from global warming kicked off a rolling start, as last year's global agreement to slow climate change took effect.

The 2015 Paris Agreement formally started on November 4 after winning support from major greenhouse gas emitters led by China and the United States, but legal texts do not specify a time zone where it begins.

As a result, it came into effect first in the Pacific region, home to low-lying island states on the front lines of storm surges, disruptions to rainfall and a creeping rise in sea levels.

The eastern islands of Kiribati were among the first, followed by countries such as Tonga, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands.

Going into effect in the Pacific "which is home to vulnerable island nations who have all ratified the agreement, makes for one of those serendipitous moments in history," Thoriq Ibrahim, Environment Minister of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, said.

Mr Ibrahim will chair the alliance of small island states at talks among almost 200 nations in Marrakesh from November 7 to 18 to try to find ways to implement the Paris Agreement, partly by working out rules for an often vague text.

The Paris Agreement seeks to wean the world economy off fossil fuels in the second half of the century and limit a rise in average world temperatures to "well below" two degrees Celsius above preindustrial times.

Australia yet to ratify Agreement in Parliament

Australia has signed the Paris Agreement, but will not be legally bound by it until it is ratified— that is, passed — by the Parliament.

The Government said it tabled the Paris Agreement at the first opportunity after the election, and the ratification is now in its final stages, with the agreement before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

"It's unlikely that Australia will have ratified the agreement prior to the global talks starting, which is unfortunate," chief executive of the Climate Council Amanda McKenzie said.

"Part of the important thing in Australia's contribution to the international movement on climate change is that we're trying to establish some momentum."

On Thursday, the United Nation said greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will exceed by 12 billion to 14 billion tonnes what is needed to keep global warming to the agreed target.

The agreement is formally starting 30 days after it passed a threshold of 55 nations accounting for more than 55 per cent of greenhouse gases.

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