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Pressure grows on the UK as China and US jointly ratify Paris climate change agreement

'There are no excuses left for the UK government to delay the ratification of the Paris deal, least of all Brexit'

Saturday 03 September 2016 11:40 BST
Heavy pollution hangs in the air over elevated motorways in Shanghai
Heavy pollution hangs in the air over elevated motorways in Shanghai (Getty Images )

Pressure is growing on the UK to ratify the Paris climate change agreement after both China and the US announced they had done so at a joint ceremony ahead of the G20 Summit.

The landmark deal obligates countries to cut emissions to keep the global average rise in temperature to below 2C. The UK, one of the signatories in Paris, has yet to formally adopt the deal.

With China and the US both ratifying the deal, it moves a step closer to becoming a legally binding, international treaty, which will happen once countries which between them produce 55 per cent of global carbon emissions adopt the treaty.

China and US collectively produce 40 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Robin Willoughby, Oxfam's head of food and climate change, stressed that the UK must ratify the deal as soon as possible if it wanted to be seen as a global leader.

"If the UK is to continue to justify its reputation as a global leader on climate change, the Government must ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible. This deal can offer a lifeline for the world's poorest people who are already feeling the full force of our changing climate," he said.

Camilla Toulmin, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), said: “There’s no reason now for the UK not to ratify the agreement as soon as possible.

"Doing so would help cement our reputation for leadership on climate change and send a strong signal to countries globally that we’re looking to build stronger links with in a post-Brexit world that we’re working with them towards a common goal."

Greenpeace UK's chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said Britain had led the way on the issue in the past and must now do so again.

"It's the UK's turn to help push it over the finishing line. Britain showed its climate leadership with the Climate Change Act and the crucial role it played in the Paris negotiations. It's now time to show that leadership once again," Dr Parr said.

"Every extra tonne of CO2 released into the atmosphere makes it harder to reverse the impacts of climate change already unfolding all around us, leaving a greater burden to future generations.

"There are no excuses left for the UK government to delay the ratification of the Paris deal, least of all Brexit. If anything, the UK has never been more in need to demonstrate it's a reliable partner on its international commitments."

The UK has also been urged to ratify the agreement by Pacific islanders who face losing their homes as sea levels rise.

The Marshall Islands are only two metres above sea level and will face significant issues if climate change is not tackled. Rising waters have already engulfed a number of small islands in the Pacific.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Climate change remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security and one of the most serious threats facing our world. The UK’s commitment to tackling it, internationally and domestically, is as strong as ever.

“We are committed to ratifying the Paris Agreement as soon as possible.”

A Greenpeace petition calling on Theresa May to ratify the Paris climate deal has gathered over 100,000 signatures.

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