Plan To Save Humanity From Catastrophic Global Warming Gets A Boost

Why 31 countries joining The Paris Agreement is a big deal

Secretary Kerry

Secretary Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the High-level Event on the Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement on September 21.UN Photo/Cia Pak

Today, the Paris Agreement got a big boost. 31 countries ratified or accepted the Paris Agreement, an international climate change treaty, an international climate change treaty that calls upon nations to reduce their total greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to try and stave off the worst effects of global warming, such as extreme temperatures and sea level rise.

The influx of countries brings the total number of nations that have accepted the agreement to 60. That's significant because there are two requirements for the Paris Agreement to shift from being an international pipe dream into a legally binding document; at least 55 countries must ratify or agree to the document, and the total carbon emissions from the countries that agree to the Paris agreement needs to be at least 55 percent of the world's total human-caused carbon emissions.

The first hurdle has been passed with 60 countries instead of 55 already signing on. But those 60 countries only represent 47.76 percent of global carbon emissions, meaning additional countries with at carbon contributions totaling 7.24 percent of the world's total will need to sign on. The agreement will go into effect exactly 30 days after the final hurdle has been met.

The United States and China formally joined the Paris Agreement earlier this month, a huge victory for proponents of the agreement. The pair represents almost 40 percent of worldwide carbon emissions.

The goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep global average temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably keep them from rising much above 1.5 degrees Celsius. Considering that last month was the 16th month in a row to break heat records, there is considerable urgency to make the agreement stick.

The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, will leave his post at the end of this year, and hopes to secure the Paris Agreement before then.

"The remarkable support for this Agreement reflects the urgency and magnitude of the challenge. Emissions continue to rise. So does the global thermostat – and the risks," Ban said in a statement.

“Climate impacts are increasing. No nation or community is immune, but the vulnerable are feeling the effects first and worst,” Ban said.

"We are absolutely certain that we will have the Paris agreement entering into force by the end of 2016," David Nabarro, a special adviser to Ban told The New York Times.