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China’s legislature ratifies Paris agreement

China’s legislature on Saturday ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Lawmakers voted to adopt “the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement,” at the closing meeting of the bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

The agreement is the third document to attempt to address climate change, following the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

BIGGER ROLE IN GLOBAL CLIMATE GOVERNANCE

“Ratifying the agreement accords with China’s policy of actively dealing with climate change,” said the proposal, and addressing climate change will help sustainable development.

Ratification will “advance China’s green, low-carbon development and safeguard environmental security,” it said.

Ratifying the agreement is in China’s interests and will help the country “play a bigger role in global climate governance,” according to the proposal.

China signed the Paris Agreement at UN Headquarters in New York on April 22, Earth Day.

Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, acting for President Xi Jinping, signed the document and announced that China would ratify the pact before the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

On Dec. 12, 2015, after nearly two weeks of talks, 196 parties to the UN conference on climate change in Paris (COP21) reached agreement on holding the average global rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably below 1.5 degrees.

It is a major milestone for global climate negotiations, especially after the failed 2009 Copenhagen summit and disputes among countries on their responsibilities.

To fulfill its commitments, China will have to cut carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, increase non-fossil fuel sources in primary energy consumption to about 20 percent, and peak its carbon emissions by 2030.

These targets are reflected in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

The Paris Agreement still lacks the support of 55 nations that account for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Countries still have one year to ink the agreement as it is open for signatures until April 21, 2017.

ENGENDERING BANDWAGON EFFECT

Joanna Lewis of Georgetown University said in a signed article, “Climate change is the area in which China has shown perhaps the strongest international leadership. As China hosts the G20, we can expect energy and climate to be front and center.”

“China seems to be taking a responsible lead to join others in setting the example of implementing steps to limit global warming,” Douglas H. Paal, director of Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua.

“It is smart for China to use its hosting of the G20 Summit try to engender a bandwagon effect among the participating countries,” he said.

Environmental experts said that concrete commitment by major powers, like China, would increase expectations for an early start to the pact, before the original deadline of 2020.

“I think the Paris Agreement will enter into force very, very soon,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.