A new global agreement to tackle climate change will take effect on November 4 after the accord crossed an important threshold for support late on Wednesday.
European nations, Canada, Bolivia and Nepal boosted official backing for the 2015 Paris Agreement to countries representing more than 55 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions, as needed for implementation.
By Thursday, 74 countries or parties to the U.N. climate change convention had formally joined the Paris Agreement, adding up to nearly 60 percent of global emissions, a U.N. website showed.
U.S. President Barack Obama called Wednesday “a historic day in the fight to protect our planet for future generations”.
“If we follow through on the commitments that this Paris agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet,” he said.
Work will start at U.N. climate talks in Morocco next month to hammer out the rules for putting the accord into practice.
Here is a selection of comments on the agreement’s entry into force from top officials and climate change experts:
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State:
“Today it is crystal clear that we have finally woken up. We have learned from the false starts of the past, and we are now – finally – on the path to protecting the future for our children, our grandchildren and generations to come.”
Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Secretary-General:
“Now we must move from words to deeds and put Paris into action. We need all hands on deck – every part of society must be mobilised to reduce emissions and help communities adapt to inevitable climate impacts.”
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):
“Entry into force bodes well for the urgent, accelerated implementation of climate action that is now needed to realise a better, more secure world and to support also the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Mohamed Adow, senior climate advisor, Christian Aid:
“The speed at which the Paris Agreement has come into force has been remarkable. But we now need to see tangible actions to follow just as quickly. As Hurricane Matthew leaves destruction across the Caribbean, we’re reminded that our climate continues to undergo rapid change and we are continuing to pollute it.”
Wolfgang Jamann, CEO and secretary general, CARE International:
To see the benefits of the Paris Agreement, “we need to keep the momentum, and quickly step up actions to cut emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Governments need to rapidly improve the climate resilience of their most vulnerable and marginalised populations especially women and girls. Otherwise the agreement will be an empty shell, and the consequences will continue to be devastating for millions around the world.”
Heather Coleman, climate change manager, Oxfam America:
“While countries have all pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, the collective commitments made are still not enough to prevent dangerous climate change. Countries need to implement and scale up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean, resilient economy.
Oxfam estimates that the communities most vulnerable to feeling the effects of climate change are only receiving a fraction of the money that rich countries pledged to adaptation.”
Jennifer Morgan, executive director, Greenpeace International:
“Now that a truly global binding climate agreement is in place, governments should have the confidence to not only meet but also beat their national targets and provide support to the poorest countries.”
Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute:
“With the agreement in full force, countries can shift their focus from commitment to action.
We must create more liveable, low-carbon cities and expand the supply of land and forests for carbon storage. We must slash food loss and waste, a major source of emissions and a travesty for people who lack enough food. And, we must continue to work at all levels – global, national, cities and communities – to build the political will for this transformation.”
May Boeve, executive director, 350.org:
“The entry (into force) of the Paris climate agreement represents a turning point in the fight against climate change: the era of fossil fuels is finally coming to an end. Now the real work begins. The only way to meet the 1.5 or 2°C target (for global temperature rise) is to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The fossil fuel industry’s current ‘drill and burn’ business plan is completely incompatible with this agreement.”
Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer, IKEA Group:
“The Paris agreement represents a turning point for business. The certainty of ever-stronger policies to reduce emissions creates clarity and unlocks opportunities for developing products, services and operations for a low-carbon economy. We are only at the beginning, but the pace at which countries have been ratifying the agreement shows that the policy leadership is there to achieve real change. Now we need to work together for a rapid transition to a future built on clean, renewable energy.”
By Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Katie Nguyen. c Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change.