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Paris Treaty Tracking MapCountries with Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) - Plans to meet the Paris Treaty tagets. Image: World Resources Institute

Climate Protection Proliferation

Posted 1 November 2016 by Carol Brighton

Less than a year ago, in Dec. 2015, international negotiations concluded successfully with a global climate agreement. There are now 190 parties to the Paris Treaty and 163 countries have submitted plans to the United Nations on how they plan to meet carbon emission reductions. As of October, the Treaty had been ratified by enough countries, including major players like the US, China, and the EU to enter into force on November 4.

A major milestone in the battle against climate change, the Paris Agreement failed to include anything about the growing greenhouse emissions from two rapidly expanding sectors of the global economy. The good news is that initiatives to curb emissions from the airline and coolant industries were also agreed upon this Fall.

Hydrofluorocarbons, developed to replace ozone destroying chemicals used for refrigeration and air conditioning, turn out to very potent greenhouse gases with 1,000 times the efficacy of CO2. Under the auspices of the Montreal Protocol, the treaty negotiated in 1987 to ban the emission of the chemicals that threaten the ozone layer, a new accord has been agreed upon. The deal struck in Kigali, Rwanda in October, will lead to the eventual phase-out of HFCs. The Kigali Accord is considered to be a more binding international instrument than the Paris Treaty as it sets specific timelines for HFC replacement and outlines consequences for failing to meet them. According to Secretary of State, John Kerry, the deal could result in the avoidance of "up to a half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century."

The United Nations body that represents the international airline industry also recently gathered to address emissions not included in the Paris Treaty. In a statement on October 6, Secretary Kerry notes that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) representing 191 states "adopted an unprecedented global market-based measure that puts the international aviation industry on a path toward sustainable, carbon-neutral growth." The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation calls for capping international airline CO2 emissions at 2020 levels. As the industry is set to expand at a remarkable pace, the goal will be achieved through the purchase of carbon offsets and technological innovations. While the agreement is voluntary, it is significant as it represents the first global sector committing to offset future carbon emissions. Check out this infographic on "How a Global Carbon Offsetting Scheme for Aviation Would Work."

Even with these agreements in place, keeping the climate threshold below a warming of 2 degrees Celsius presents a real challenge. The International Maritime Organization recently met but failed to implement any measures addressing CO2 emissions. Fortunately, there are many more opportunities to achieve climate goals. Read more in "The Climate Cure."



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