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State of the Planet: “Fast-Track Paris” – Ready to Ratify – Companies on Board – Record Temperatures

US president Obama with the next generation at the White House. Photo: The White House
US president Obama with the next generation at the White House. Photo: The White House

Things are moving quickly as our planet makes the transition to a new, clean economy. You want to stay in the loop – but you’re busy, that’s why we keep an eye on the headlines for you!

Welcome to the 22 April 2016 edition of the Daily Planet’s weekly State Of The Planet. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @peter_koekoek or peter.koekoek@climate-kic.org.

It’s Earth Day today, AND the Paris Agreement is being signed in New York.

The Daily Planet has six fun tips for how to spend your Earth Day, including… tree hugging! But make sure to do this somewhere with mobile signal if you want to watch the live stream of the opening ceremony of the Paris Agreement signing at 14:30 CEST / 8:30 EDT. The actual signing will be broadcast live from 15:50 CEST / 9:50 EDT. The UN has published a list of countries that are planning on signing today.

What’s next for the Paris Agreement after today’s signing in New York?

Today’s signing is the second step in a three step process:

  1. The Paris Agreement was “adopted” at the UN climate summit last year.
  2. Today will be a ceremonial “signing” of the agreement, countries reaffirm their commitment to ratify the agreement.
  3. The final – and for some countries most complicated – step will be that countries run the agreement by their national politicians to formally “ratify” the agreement.

The agreement will enter into force once it has been ratified (so that’s step 3, not today’s signing) by at least 55 parties, representing at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Following last week’s Earth “wobble” – more news in the “uh oh” category…

Greenland is melting “way ahead of schedule,” Grist reports. The “April kick-off [of melting] is apparently “so bizarrely early,” that scientists double checked their analysis before making the announcement. The news comes as March temperatures obliterate a 100-year global record, the Guardian reports how the average global temperature was 1.07 degrees Celsius hotter, even worse than February’s record increase. March was also the 11th consecutive month to set a record high for temperatures, the New York Times notes.

China and the US are among the countries to push for the Paris Agreement to take effect many years before its original 2020 start date.

The US and China are leading an effort to bring the Paris climate accord into force much faster than planned. Canada’s Justin Trudeau is also said to lobby for quick approval, the Guardian reports. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has said the US and China will make an “exciting announcement” today. According to Figueres, they’ll say that they are ready to ratify “this year.”

The EU’s climate commissioner also wants to ratify early, and says “let’s get down to work.”

Although the European Union played a key role in sealing the Paris deal, it may not be among the first to formally ratify the agreement as it has – aside from the European Parliament – 28 national systems to navigate. And some of those have changed government since, or briefly before, the deal in Paris – complicating matters further.

But European commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and Dutch environment minister Sharon Dijksma – the Netherlands holds the EU presidency at the moment – call on governments to get to work in an opinion piece published by Climate Home. Cañete also co-authored an article with EU foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini published by Huffington Post. They say: “Our priority now is to go for an early ratification and entry into force of the Paris Agreement.”

The EU-led High Ambition Coalition met in New York yesterday, in advance of the signing.

The coalition was instrumental to forging the deal in Paris last year.

$24 trillion says governments should fast-track the Paris Agreement.

Just days before the Paris Agreement signing in New York, investors urged world leaders to let the climate deal enter into force sooner than planned, possibly as early as late 2016. The Daily Planet reports how investment groups representing more than 400 institutional investors (who collectively manage more than $24 trillion in assets) are urging world leaders to “sign the Paris Agreement on April 22nd at the United Nations in New York” and then usher it through their national legislatures “as soon as possible.”

The phasing out of fossil fuels may also be fast-tracked.

Fossil fuels could be phased out in a decade, says the director of a UK energy think tank run by the University of Sussex.

100+ major companies has said they want to help implement the Paris Agreement.

IKEA, Mars, Philips, Salesforce, Unilever, Adidas, HP, Starbucks and many others say they will do their bit to make the Paris Agreement a success, the Daily Planet reports. The 110 companies are also calling on world leaders to provide “clarity” to boost the “confidence of investors worldwide.” The businesses released their joint statement just two days before the ceremonial signing of the Paris Agreement in New York today.

Moving on… if you want to start following COP22, here are some must-follow accounts on Twitter.

With the Paris Agreement set to be signed in New York on today, COP21 is about to become old news. In November, the United Nations will meet in Marrakesh, Morocco, for the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22). The Daily Planet points you to some of the accounts that will keep you in the loop.

Al Gore says climate change is the biggest business opportunity in world history.

Former US vice president Al Gore is one of the world’s most prominent campaigners for climate action, and usually paints a grim picture. But now he’s making the case for optimism, the Daily Planet reports. In his speech at the TED 2016 conference in Vancouver, Gore highlighted how an “explosion of new investment” is boosting the uptake of new technologies, and how climate change is the “biggest new business opportunity in the history of the world.”

Even the decommissioning of offshore drilling facilities is a business opportunity.

“Offshore decommissioning should be viewed as an opportunity rather than an afterthought,” so says the CEO of the Decom North Sea members organisation for oil and gas decommissioning in an opinion piece for Oil & Gas magazine.

Looking for something to fix?

Some of these stories may just inspire your next business venture:

  • No longer confined to a season, wildfires burn earlier and longer. Climate change is a major cause for the phenomenon, reports the New York Times. But aggressive policies to put fires out as quickly as possible has also aggravated the problem, some forests are overgrown.
  • A UK inquiry following the Volkswagen scandal has found much higher than allowed nitrogen oxide levels in all best-selling cars. Some emit up to 12 times the EU maximum when tested on the road, the Guardian reports.

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