Obama celebrates Paris ratification

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2016

President Obama hailed the ratification today of the Paris climate agreement.

The deal negotiated in December crossed the threshold for entry into force with the announcement that 72 countries, accounting for about 57 percent of the world’s emissions, have now officially signed on.

“This gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we’ve got,” Obama said in an address from the Rose Garden.

Obama called for progress on a broad range of climate commitments, such as limiting aviation emissions and phasing out chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning that have potent greenhouse gases.

“Even if we meet every target embodied in the agreement, we’ll only get to part of where we need to go,” Obama said. “But make no mistake, this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change.”

Environmental groups said the extraordinary speed with which nations have embraced the Paris accord — 10 months — underscores the global sense of urgency in the fight against climate change.

“We commend the wide array of leaders from heads of state to local elected officials to CEOs who are stepping up to hasten the transition from the dirty fossil fuels of the past to a resilient economy powered by clean energy,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in a statement.

Republican critics in Congress argued the deal is nonbinding because it was not ratified by the Senate.

House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) challenged some greens’ conclusion that the deal binds the next president’s hands (Greenwire, Oct. 5).

“The foreign policy of the United States is not bound to the empty promise coming out of Paris that will ultimately have little impact on global temperatures,” he said. “This costly agreement that calls for different standards of transparency between countries will ultimately provide an unnecessary economic burden leading to significant job losses and a stagnant economy.”