The heads of nearly 171 countries convened at the United Nations office in New York Friday to sign an overarching climate summit agreement aimed at dramatically reducing global greenhouse gasses.
The initial agreement was ironed out by world leaders at a December get-together in Paris.
In order for the agreement to have teeth, global leaders reckoned they would need to guide the new rule proposals through three stages.
The initial stage happened at the Paris meeting in December, which included getting 196 countries to back the deal. Friday’s Earth Day signing ceremony is the second stage, and the final stage requires each and every country ratify the deal through their respective legislatures.
“We are breaking records in this Chamber — and that is good news,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in opening remarks Friday. “But records are also being broken outside; record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere. We are in a race against time.”
Hollywood actor turned part-time environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, a U.N. Messenger of Peace, told world leaders Friday, “our planet will not be saved unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong.”
The deal will also need the approval of at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions if it is to have any force. The bulk of the agreement aims at preventing an uptick in global temperature of anything more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to place his signature on the document and President Barack Obama will ratify it in December prior to leaving office. Obama, for his part, promised the U.S. would slash carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, which he says he can do without Senate’s approval.
Republicans and conservatives are not nearly as pleased by the agreement as their environmentalist counterparts.
“This Paris Climate Agreement is the latest in the Obama administration’s string of attacks on the livelihoods of American families, increasing costs by trillions and causing everyday household bills to skyrocket,” GOP presidential candidate Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] said in a press statement Friday.
“Public policy should follow science, evidence, and data, but instead we have a White House full of global warming alarmists imposing partisan dogma that hurts working men and women,” he said. “We have liberal politicians who want government power over the economy, the energy sector, and every aspect of our lives.”
Cruz went on to lambaste Obama for what he said amounts to placing attention on the SUVs in a person’s driveway over the importance of national security.
“Signing on to the Paris Agreement on climate change is a terribly expensive mistake,” Steven Groves, a research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said in press statement. “The pact commits Washington to regulate our economy even more heavily in the name of climate change, yet it will have essentially zero impact on global temperatures.”
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