Climate Buzz

‘Let’s Seize The Moment!’ Twitter Reactions to US-China Paris Agreement Ratification

Image: The White House
Image: The White House

China and the US, responsible for 40 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, have made history by ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The move – announced on Saturday 4 September – is a major boost for the historic accord, which still needs to be ratified by most countries that back it, including the European Union.

Because it is a highly political process that in some cases needs the backing of parliaments, it is all about momentum. With that in mind, how did politicians and officials around the world react to the news? Get started with these 17 tweets.

1. It’s Official

“It’s official,” tweeted Brian Deese, a senior advisor to US president Barack Obama, along with a photo of the document that commits the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change. The picture reveals that Obama already signed the paperwork on Monday 29 August.

Obama was able to ratify the agreement because he did not need support from the grid-locked US Congress. The accord is part of a broader umbrella agreement – the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted with bipartisan support during George H. Bush’ presidency – and these types of add-on arrangements are typically handled by the president.

2. Good News!

EU climate commissioner Miguel Cañete called the ratification “Good news!” – promising that the “EU is getting ready” to follow suit, with decisions to be made “soon.”

Whereas China and the US were able to ratify the agreement fairly swiftly, the EU won’t be able to do so until all of its 28 member states have independently ratified the agreement according to their national procedures.

3. Let’s Seize The Moment

Some have argued that individual EU member states should go ahead and ratify the climate accord unilaterally instead of waiting for everyone to come on board.

But a few minutes after his first tweet, Cañete said that the EU’s ratification of the Paris Agreement would  “demonstrate European solidarity and unity in challenging times.”

“Let’s seize the moment,” he tweeted.

4. Big Step!

UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa thanked China and the US on Twitter and called the move a “Big step!”

5. Bravo United States

“Bravo to the United States,” tweeted French environment minister Ségolène Royal, along with a video of herself, US secretary of state John Kerry and former US vice president Al Gore at the COP21 climate summit in Paris.

6. We Can’t Stop Here

US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton quoted a tweet from her opponent Donald Trump, calling it “A reminder as America officially joins the Paris climate agreement.”

The Trump tweet from 2014 read: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

clinton trump

7. Irreversible

“Making the impossible not only possible but irreversible,” is how former UN climate chief Chirstiana Figueres described the ratification. Figueres is currently running for UN secretary general, and her campaign is focused on themes such as restoring hope and strengthening multilateralism.

8. Important Step Forward!

Luxemburg’s climate minister, Carole Dieschbourg, highlighted that the Paris Agreement has now been ratified by the “two biggest emitters,” calling it an “Important step forward!”

9. A New Focus

Former UN environment head Achim Steiner – now a director at the University of Oxford – expects the “decarbonisation of economies” will be a new focus, following the ratification by China and the US.

10. Onward

Moroccan climate change minister Hakima El Haite already looked ahead to the climate summit in Marrakesh later this year, COP22, calling it the “COP of action.” A lot of the details on how the Paris Agreement should be implemented will be decided at the UN summit.

11. A Milestone!

Dutch climate change minister Sharon Dijksma called the ratification a “milestone,” and said the Netherlands will “probably ratify” at the end of this year.

12. Huge Step

UN environment executive director Erik Solheim, the former Norwegian climate change minister, called it a “huge step in the fight against climate change!”

13. The Context

Nick Hurd, Britain’s minister for climate change and industry – a new role following the abolition of the UK’s climate change department – put the ratification in the context of his job by quoting a tweet that says “industry is one of the biggest contributors” to climate change.

Just last week, the Daily Planet reported how there are major climate action opportunities for the industrial sector, which emits more than one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

14. Go Further

The chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, former Obama aide John Podesta, tweeted Clinton will deliver on the Paris Agreement, and “go further to cut emissions” and power every home in America with renewable energy.

15. Clear Signal For Action

Denmarks climate change minister, Lars Christian Lilleholt, said his country will ratify the Paris Agreement in October, calling it a “clear signal for action.”

16. Act Together

US secretary of State John Kerry tweeted that the agreement showed how the world’s largest economies can “accomplish much good” when they act together, before urging others to join.

17. History: Now Let’s go Build it

Climate-KIC, the EU’s climate innovation initiative, called the ratification historic, and thanked China and the US before saying “Now let’s go build that low carbon economy!”

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