The UK Prime Minister has announced during the United Nations meeting in New York that the UK will ratify the Paris climate agreement before the end of the year. This follows a string of high-profile nations, including the US and China, that have already done so, as well as another 31 countries officially joining the accord on Wednesday, bringing the deal within striking distance of coming into force.
For the Paris Agreement to be officially enacted, it requires that 55 countries from the 185 parties that signed the agreement (representing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions) to ratify the deal. Currently, the figure stands at 60 countries that account for 47.76 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. This means that the first stipulation has already been met.
“I’m ever more confident that the Paris agreement will enter into force this year,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, reported The Guardian. “I appeal to all leaders to accelerate domestic arrangements to join this year.”
The UK is thought to be around the 14th largest emitter of CO2 in the world, and so not an insignificant contributor. However, ratifying the deal is more of a message to other nations that the country is serious in the fight against the threat posed by climate change.
In her maiden speech to the United Nations, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Some of the threats that we face together today are familiar to those founding leaders: war, political instability, abuses of human rights and poverty. Others are new: global terrorism, climate change, and unprecedented mass movements of people.”
“We will continue to play our part in the international effort against climate change,” May continued. “And in a demonstration of our commitment to the agreement reached in Paris, the UK will start its domestic procedures to enable ratification of the Paris agreement, and complete these before the end of the year.”
Worry had begun to spread among environmental groups and campaigners when Theresa May took office in July, after one of her first moves was to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change. This new announcement, however, is sure to allay those fears, and demonstrate that Britain will continue to fight climate change even after it has left the European Union.
When the Paris climate agreement was signed at the end of last year, the UK did so as part of the EU before the events of Brexit, and so was tied up with the European block during negotiations as each member state has to agree to the accord. It also meant that the UK would have been reducing emissions as one member of the union, although individual nations were able to ratify the agreement on their own, as demonstrated by France doing so in June, and as Germany is expected to do in a matter of weeks.
It is thought that the UK had come under increasing pressure since the United States and China made a joint announcement earlier this month to ratify the deal, a move that was closely followed by Brazil, which is one of the largest developing economies in the world and thus expected to become one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.