Get ready to celebrate, Earth
The entire world has reason to celebrate. On Wednesday, the Paris Agreement, an accord committing nations to staving off global warming at no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, was set to pass the second and last threshold to officially take effect.
The agreement had two thresholds to clear before being enacted: signing on 55 countries, and accounting for more than 55 percent of global emissions.
The first threshold of 55 countries was easily met, with more than 60 having signed on as of Tuesday. But those nations only accounted for 52 percent of emissions.
“By the end of the day, we expect the Paris agreement on climate change to have crossed the second and final threshold needed for it to enter into force,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told the Associated Press. Haq noted that the E.U., Canada, and Nepal all were expected to ratify the agreement Wednesday. With those three nations, the agreement surpasses the 55 percent mark.
Haq additionally said:
“The Secretary-General has been very encouraged by the tremendous positive support from a broad coalition of countries from the largest emitters to the small island developing states to bring the Paris agreement to life as soon as possible.”
The signing of the agreement could not come soon enough. September 2016 marked the last time the Earth likely ever will see global carbon dioxide levels fall below 400 parts per million, a number indicating the ratio of carbon dioxide to other gases in the atmosphere.
We just passed the 400 ppm threshold. Permanently https://t.co/UrcjALrqlL https://t.co/szh7QF1YTB— Climate Central (@Climate Central) 1475258048.0
“I think we’re essentially over for good,” Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps Institute for Oceanography’s carbon dioxide monitoring program, told Climate Central.
Gavin Schmidt, NASA’s chief climate scientist, additionally told Climate Central that even if all the carbon emissions dropped to zero tomorrow, it still would take years to negate the damage human-induced global warming has caused. “At best (in that scenario), one might expect a balance in the near term and so CO2 levels probably wouldn’t change much—but would start to fall off in a decade or so.”
Watch President Obama’s reaction to the announcement below.