Is ‘Brexit’ More Likely To Happen This Year Than A UN Climate Treaty?

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

There may be a greater chance of the UK voting to leave the European Union than there is of a United Nations global warming agreement going into force before the end of 2016.

France became the latest country to officially ratify the UN global warming deal Wednesday, but it’s unclear if enough countries will ratify the agreement for it to go into effect by the end of the year.

On the other hand, UK voters will head to the polls in eight days to decide whether or not to stay in the EU. The Financial Times reports 47 percent of voters intend to support a so-called “Brexit,” while 45 percent want to remain in the EU.

For the UN climate deal to come into force, however, 55 countries representing 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for warming the planet. So far, 17 countries have ratified the agreement, representing just 0.5 percent of global emissions — not nearly enough to bring the deal into force.

The climate agreement was hashed out in December in Paris last year by nearly 200 UN member countries. The Obama administration had been pushing the deal behind the scenes for months leading up to December’s Paris conference, and even cut a deal with China to get other countries to sign on.

The U.S., China, India and Russia have all signed the agreement, but not taken the proper steps to ratify it. The Obama administration and China’s communist government have been pushing other countries to ratify the deal, so it can go into effect by the end of the year.

President Barack Obama’s main reason for pushing early ratification is to bring the agreement into force before leaving office, so it’s harder for a potential Republican successor to pull out. Obama also wants to make sure no one has time to second guess America’s commitment to fighting global warming.

France and 18 other countries — mostly small, low-lying island nations — have answered Obama’s call. France, however, still needs to convince the rest of the EU to join for the the whole bloc to join. Hungary is the only other EU member to have ratified the climate deal.

But there’s one big thorn in Obama’s side: India.

Obama recently met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and they both jointly announced major efforts to tackle global warming. The White House even claimed India planned on ratifying the climate deal this year.

“I believe what Prime Minister Modi has said about this is that India shares the objective that the United States has laid out, which is to see the agreement come into force this year,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters after the meeting.

But Indian officials were quick to counter Earnest’s remarks, saying India would not be ratifying the global warming deal this year.

The Hindu newspaper reported “Indian officials said this was not the case.” An Indian official later confirmed this to the Press Trust of India.

Without India, the UN deal is unlikely to go into force this year. Germany’s Potsdam Institute predicts the climate deal won’t go into force this year, especially since India has given no indication it will ratify it this year.

Potsdam predicts only 46 countries representing 53.12 percent of global emissions will ratify the agreement in 2016.

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