The United Nations has issued a plea for nations to fast-track ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement as some countries are backtracking on support for the deal’s sweeping restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged nations to attend a “special event” Thursday where they may deposit their “instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Agreement on climate change.”
“I urge you to accelerate your country’s domestic process for ratification of the Agreement this year,” Mr. Ban said in a statement.
His push for rapid ratification comes amid the increasingly chilly reception for the agreement, adopted by 195 parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, by nations concerned about the impact of the carbon restrictions.
The change of heart even has a name: “Clexit,” short for “climate exit,” a take-off on “Brexit,” the successful June 23 British vote to leave the European Union.
The most dramatic repudiation was from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, elected in November, who said Monday that he “will not honor” the proposed restrictions on emissions. He called them stupid and cited his country’s need for greater economic development and industrialization.
Developed nations “were enjoying the booming [economy] and flooding the air with contaminants. Now that they are rich because of coal and industrialization, we are being asked to cut emission and limit our activities,” Mr. Duterte said in the Philippine Star.
Meanwhile, U.N. special envoy for climate change Mary Robinson decried Monday what she described as recent efforts by Germany and Britain to support the fossil fuel industry despite their previous support for the agreement.
The British government “introduced new tax breaks for oil and gas in 2015 that will cost U.K. taxpayer billions between 2015 and 2020, and, at the same time, they’ve cut support for renewables and for energy efficiency,” Ms. Robinson told The Guardian newspaper.
“It’s regrettable. That’s not in the spirit [of Paris],” she said. “In many ways, the U.K. was a real leader, and hopefully the U.K. will become again a real leader. But it’s not at the moment.”
Marc Morano, who runs the skeptics’ website Climate Depot, said Tuesday that the cold feet on global warming shows that some countries are realizing the international climate agreement is “not in their best interests.”
“More and more nations are realizing that the U.N. climate treaty is nothing more than an effort to empower the U.N. and attack national sovereignty while doing absolutely nothing for the climate,” said Mr. Morano, who debuted his film “Climate Hustle” during the negotiations in Paris.
He said that the “time has come for a U.S.-led ‘Clexit’ from … the climate treaty.”
President Obama has positioned himself as a strong champion of the accord, which is viewed as a cornerstone of his policy legacy as he prepares to leave office in January.
Under the Paris Agreement, 177 nations and the European Union agreed to set nonbinding limits on their carbon output in an effort to keep global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.
Since then, 19 countries have ratified the agreement, which goes into effect 30 days after ratification by 55 nations responsible for 55 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The Obama administration is expected to follow with an executive order before the end of the year, despite objections from Republicans who argue that the agreement is a treaty and therefore must be ratified by the Senate.
The clock is ticking: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he will “cancel” the agreement if elected in November.
The website Climate Analytics estimates that 51 countries accounting for 53.28 percent of global emissions are expected to ratify the agreement by Dec. 31, which would fall short of placing the accord into effect.
In Australia, climate skeptics launched what they dubbed the “Clexit” movement after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull participated in a ceremonial signing of the agreement April 22 at U.N. headquarters in New York City.
Signers from 175 nations participated in the ceremony, including U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry.
Mr. Ban said an accelerated ratification for the agreement would “create incentives for early implementation of nationally determined contributions and build support within markets and societies for increased climate ambition.”
“As Ban Ki-moon’s tenure as U.N. secretary-general draws to a close, he is no doubt thinking about his legacy, how history will remember him,” said Eric Worrall in a Monday post on the skeptics’ website Watts Up With That.
“Given the accelerating collapse of political climate enthusiasm across the world, my prediction is Ban Ki-moon will be remembered as the U.N. Secretary General who presided over the downfall of the green movement,” Mr. Worrall said.