Can the climate be saved?

Following in the steps of the two main agents of climate change, the US and China, another 31 states have also ratified the UN climate change pact. The 60 countries to have signed the agreement account for 48 percent of global CO2 emissions. That number must rise to 55 percent for the pact to take effect. But the EU is not cutting a good figure here, some commentators criticise. Others see the global community on the right path.

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Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

EU delivers embarassing performance

It will soon be impossible to call the EU a pioneer in the fight against climate change, Helsingin Sanomat complains:

“The EU, the self-appointed leader on climate issues, has landed in an embarrassing situation now that one country after another has ratified the Paris climate agreement while the Union still hasn't. … This slowness is above all the result of internal problems. In particular Britain's exit from the EU is complicating the process. … The acceleration in the pace of ratification means that the agreement will take effect by the end of the year. The EU could have a crucial impact on the timing because it generates 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. … Being a straggler is embarrassing for the EU and a sign of its sluggishness. If the Paris climate agreement comes into effect without the EU there can be no more talk of it being a pioneer.”

Sme (SK) /

The world is on the right path

The fact that 31 additional countries have signed the Paris climate agreement shows how attitudes are changing, the daily Sme contends:

“If the countries of the EU also join the treaty in the coming months, 55 states - producing 55 percent of greenhouse gases - will have ratified it. At that point the agreement would then come into force. Admittedly, the treaty is not perfect. Paris does not specify concrete goals. Rather it leaves it up to each country to do what it can, expecting that this will lead to fewer emissions. The upshot is that some countries have set themselves far more ambitious and concrete targets than others. ... However the mere fact that so many states are moving in the same direction shows that we have started to realise how much is at stake. The same could not have been said ten years ago.”

Magyar Idők (HU) /

Obama and Xi seek to play down differences

The initiative undertaken by the US and China on the UN climate agreement cannot conceal the deep differences that divide the two superpowers, Magyar Idők comments:

“Respect for human rights has top priority for Obama. And he didn't miss the opportunity to stress this during the meeting, although he knew full well that his Chinese counterpart is sensitive on this subject. Obama also criticised Beijing's show of military strength in the South China Sea, prompting Xi Jinping to respond that China will pursue its interests unflinchingly. Meanwhile what we saw was two smiling politicians shaking hands - for not a second longer than protocol specifies. Even their smiles were rehearsed. And Xi's statement that the US and China have demonstrated exemplary cooperation in the fight against ebola only underscored the enormous distance separating the two countries. Similarly, the topic of environmental protection was also used to convey an image of unity that doesn't really exist.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Economic considerations behind change of heart

The business daily Il Sole 24 Ore sees economic interests behind the ratification of the Paris climate change pact by the US and China:

“The agreement between the US and China is of strategic importance for the business world, industrial production and technological innovation. Whoever wins the climate game will determine how industry develops - worldwide. The winners will be the states that achieve good results in technology, production standards and renewable energy sources. The US - the country with the highest fuel consumption - has the revolutionary electric cars by Tesla. China - in addition to low-quality products - has set almost unbeatable standards in technology and launched gigantic investment programmes. Trapped in debates about manipulated emissions values, Europe risks being excluded from the game.”

Expressen (SE) /

Work starts after the summits

It's all very well that the US and China have signed the climate pact but the real work has yet to be done, writes Expressen:

“Ultimately it's not the heads of government of this world who decide what happens on climate issues at these summits. The real work must be done in everyday life. By scientists who develop new technologies. By companies that invest in them. And by politicians who set rules that benefit the environment. … In Sweden too we must ask what priority we should give to climate issues when it comes to putting the ambitious goals into practice and our own status quo comes under threat. A kilometre tax for lorries? 'Madness, think of the rural areas'. … More vegetarian meals in schools? 'Fascism'. New technologies and efficiency measures can substantially reduce emissions. But achieving the climate targets will also require tough decisions and sacrifices.”