"If the Paris agreement comes into force this year as hoped, it means the nearly 200 governments party to it will become obliged to meet emissions-cutting pledges made before the deal last December."
The pledges are voluntary, there is no legally-binding obligation to meet the targets. What is legally binding is the reporting of emissions. Countries are basically asked to do the best they can.
"The climate treaty calls for keeping global temperatures from rising 1.5°C, the scientifically agreed-upon threshold for irreversible planetary changes."
The treaty says the countries should aspire to meet the 1.5C goal. The main target is to stay below 2.0C. So far meeting the pledges would lead to staying under 3.5C and that doesn't include taking into account potential positive feedbacks. If the latter do occur to a maximum then even meeting the pledges could result in reaching 5C or 6C. So the agreement is a start but the pledges need to be greatly strengthened to have any hope of avoiding utter global catastrophe.
What you say is absolutely true, so maybe you can explain the following to me:
Li Shuo said, "Political ambition must keep up with rising sea levels faced by vulnerable communities around the world."
Which world leaders was Shuo directing that at? And why?
The Bangkok Post article this article was quoting indicted he was referring to both Xi and Obama since China produces 40% of the world's carbon emissions and the U.S. produces another 15%.
It's way more than just PR and way less than what's needed. I put it in the "every journey a thousand miles begins with a first step" category and like the environmental activists quoted - I am happy it happened.
One place where I hope climate change agreements like this come into play is in trade agreements (and more importantly future more stringent climate change agreements). If we hope to see Fair Trade agreements rather than corporate-based Free Trade agreements, contributions to climate change must be accounted for.
Let's call them the oligarchy.
It's easier to take action against a common and recognizable "evil-doer."
Ok. Good. So let's finish up with the formalities and get down to the work of significantly strengthening the efforts outlined in the agreement. The actions will have to be much greater than those identified in the document and as importantly front-end loaded (as in fully implemented in the next 5 years) to make a significant difference.
Addressing climate change is not just governments signing agreements but will also require a transformation of the economic system (and an end to corporate power), significant material and psychological shift on the part of people, especially by the privileged who will have to make the most changes in behavior.
Thanks, I was fairly sure you and others would know, but I was curious about Lrx.
Are you sure about those emissions percentages?
The figures are also a bit misleading, since a lot of Chinese output is a result of multinational corporations (many based in the US) moving factories to China. Many are fueled by fossil fuels extracted from and refined in the US, although China is making greater inroads in building alternative energy capacity than the US.
These facts, plus economic slowdown, is primary reason why US can claim to be reducing its GHG footprint recently.
The problem with that is that there are some on this site who believe that the only thing wrong with the Capitalist economic model in the USA is that it's not regulated properly.
Isn't it a fact that China regulates its Capitalist economic system about as tightly as possible and still have it be defined as capitalism?
Clearly the Capitalist economic model regulated or unregulated simply doesn't work.
I think you are correct about the Chinese tight control of capitalism in China. With their command and control structure they can also direct economic efforts at things like climate change much more quickly than the US.
The legal-regulatory structure in the US that is supposed to keep in check unbridled capitalism has turned into a bad joke. When much of the structure was put in place in the 70s it actually served as a decent deterrent to corporate malfeasance. But corporations have lobbied heavily to weaken regulations and now simply factor in losses as a result fines they have to pay and plow ahead with whatever action they want to take. The legal-regulatory structure is also set up to redress harms after they have already happened - there is little incentive for corporations not to "act now and beg forgiveness/pay their fine later,"
It was a joke before Citizens United but now the game has been completely lost to us.
The Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court was a result of a lawsuit brought by Hillary Clinton. Most people don't realize that.
So, the consensus is that in order to keep global temps from rising more than 1.5 degrees C (not likely, IMO) we have to keep the remaining oil, gas and coal in the ground. Then why is it that the Obama administration has done just about everything it can to make the opposite come true? In 2009 Barry the Liar gave a speech before energy execs and was a big booster for the "All of the Above" plan for energy extraction. I don't see how much has changed although the warnings of climate scientists are getting more dire. How typical that this agreement comes at the end of Barry's 8 years in office. Remember also that at the 2009 COP in Copenhagen the Obama administration rammed though an agreement that fell far short of what other G7 nations wanted. I don't trust the intentions of Obama and his handlers worth spit. Besides, when the real shit hits the fan he'll be long gone.
See a list of Parties and Signatories, who have actually ratified the Agreement - 26 for a total of 39.06% - note that the U.S. and China both ratified on Sept. 3, 2016.
As of 03 September 2016, 179 states and the European Union have signed the Agreement. 26 of those states have ratified or acceded to the Agreement, most notably of which China and the United States, the countries with the largest greenhouse gas emissions. 
Info confirmed at http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9444.php
Global warming and population growth have a direct relationship but is seldom mentioned. China's one child policy was a step in the right direction, Pope Francis' views to the contrary notwithstanding. Unfortunately, it left a smaller pool of young people to care for a larger aging population. If money can solve this problem, it can be addressed by a Guaranteed National Income.
A Wealth Cap, established direct democratically, that automatically redistributes personal cap excesses equally to all citizens is another way to finance a solution.
Progressive taxation has not worked. "Them with the gold make the rules".
So for lack of forethought, the Chinese will need to tighten their belts until their death rate is higher than their birth rate. The rest of the world will too, unless inevitable attrition of its population happens through war, pandemics, famine, drought, or natural causes reverses unsustainable population growth.
The common answer to overpopulation problems is increasing growth, the cause of the problem in the first place. No politician wants to be blamed for lower growth. So the vicious circle continues until catastrophe ensues and puts on the brakes.
Yes those are accurate data. The U.S. has become a smaller percentage of the world total lately. But remember that China has 3 times our population so it's not surprising that they would have higher total emissions as their economy grows (since it is still largely carbon based). In terms of emissions per person - amongst the top ten emitters, Canada is the country that is doing the worst job.
Much of what you said about the China versus U.S. comparison is not true. First, only about a third of Chinese emissions are related to exports - that's all exports put together so they would be ahead of us regardless of that. Next, that happens to be the more efficient and less polluting sector of their economy ... the emissions from local Chinese sources are way worse than those using fuel from the U.S. that you mention (China uses more coal than the rest of the world combined and 70% of Chinese energy is from local coal - or the equivalent since they both import and export coal). Thirdly, the part you can truly blame on the U.S. is an absolutely minuscule part of their emissions anyways.
Importantly though, you are correct on the point that China is making greater inroads in building new renewable energy capacity than the U.S. so I am hopeful in that regard (especially since this year is the first year where their carbon emissions leveled off instead of increasing).
The U.S. "ratification" is in somewhat of a legal limbo. The President has signed it and declared it to meet the guidelines for ratification in the treaty as long as the U.S. President supports it. Not the same as going through the Constitutional process of Senate ratification which would make the treaty a binding commitment of the U.S. regardless of who's President.
Thank you C/Dreams for publishing this article and giving the people a voice, to respond to such alarming issues.
The reality is, the Democrats under Obama's reign have actually overwhelmingly embraced massive gas and oil extraction i.e. Fracking (Source: watch this video, (in his own words) enough said. During his reign he has approved Fracking so much so that thousands of extraction sites have littered the country.
And of course unprecedented environmental catastrophes have actually occurred -- for example, massive gas leaks in California and Texas. Source: one example.
Obama also embraced oil pipelines that intends to cut through sacred lands and rivers. Source: Dakota Pipeline
In a nutshell, the continued abuse of the environment and human rights abuse. Environmental cataclysms have actually occurred, and will likely continue if people continue to be "Duped" into blindly supporting such atrocious agendas...
... the contributing factor that has led to decades of atrocities is that oligarchy also have a stronghold on major media groups, that continue to spread extreme propaganda to keep the rot (wealthy interests) in control at the highest level of government -- the electorate continues to be duped. That is the sad reality, both major parties (Democrats and Republicans) are rotten to the core.
I certainly agree that the shell game of replacing coal with natural gas really isn't helping.