Today, 4 November 2016, marks an important milestone for our planet’s future, as the Paris Agreement to address climate change enters into force.
To date, 73 countries and the European Union, representing more than 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) have already joined the Agreement, including the world’s two largest GHG emitters, the USA and China. “This is a momentous occasion” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, adding that “what once seemed unthinkable, is now unstoppable. Strong international support for the Paris Agreement entering into force is a testament to the urgency for action, and reflects the consensus of governments that robust global cooperation, grounded in national action, is essential to meet the climate challenge.”
The long-term objective of the Agreement is to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C.
Countries are invited to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Among other, the Agreement provides for the establishment of a new technology framework, an enhanced support framework for developing countries and those most vulnerable to climate change impacts within a transparent framework of actions.
This positive development takes place amid alarming information from recent scientific research studies concerning the melting of Arctic ice. According to a scientific study including for the first time 125 year-long historical records from ship and aircraft observations, newspaper archives and researchers’ diaries on the Arctic sea ice extent, about 2/3 of the summer sea ice has disappeared in the last 36 years due to global warming.
Additionally, a study by an international scientific team confirms the intense Arctic sea ice loss, according to which the Greenland ice sheet is losing 110 million Olympic size swimming pools worth of water each year!
Arctic ice shrinkage is illustrated in NASA’s animation video at the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZAuRpK4tkc
HELMEPA is looking forward to the ratification of the Agreement by the rest of the 191 countries that signed it last year, since only shared commitment can produce significant results. However, the responsibility to move from theory to practice belongs to us all. By changing daily habits, such as the unnecessary use of the car for short distances, the excessive use of air conditioning and waste of energy in general, we can all help reduce GHG emissions and thus contribute to this global effort.