United States and China Ratify Paris Agreement on Climate Change

On Saturday, September 3rd, the presidents of the world’s two biggest global carbon dioxide producers (the United States at 18 percent, and China at 20 percent) joined 27 other world leaders in ratifying the United Nations landmark climate accord, the Paris Agreement. The presidents of the United States and China hand-delivered non-binding commitment letters to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a ceremony at the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit, as an example to other countries that they hope will follow suit. The Paris Agreement had been negotiated by representatives from 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and was adopted by consensus on December 12, 2015. The agreement was opened for signatures on Earth Day (April 22nd) 2016, and as of September, 180 members have signed the treaty, with 27 having ratified it. The deal is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement, and at least 55 countries, representing production of at least 55 percent of global climate pollution, must ratify it by October 7, 2016, in order for it to be in force. This is widely expected to happen. The United States has pledged to cut greenhouse gas pollution between 26 and 28 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2025. China pledged to plateau or decline its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The goals are not legally binding – in other words, countries won’t be penalized for not reaching them. But the requirements to publish their pollution levels and what the countries are doing to reduce those levels are legally binding. President Obama has made addressing climate change a priority during his administration and, according to published reports, would like to solidify his climate legacy before he leaves office in January, 2017. This bodes well for solar and wind energy production. It is not clear how the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November, 2016 will affect the implementation of the Paris Agreement, but regardless of who wins, the solar industry is growing at a very high rate and will continue to do so.  

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