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Three agreements on climate change

AS typhoons and hurricanes battered lands around the world this month, nations reached various agreements aimed at minimizing the climate change believed responsible for the worsening natural disasters.

On October 5, the Paris Agreement, for which 196 nations submitted Nationally Determined Contributions to the goal of limiting the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, was declared to have reached the threshold for entry into force. On this date, the threshold was reached with 81 countries ratifying the agreement. It formally enters into force on November 4.

On October 6, the United Nations reached accord on a global system aimed at reducing pollution from international aviation. It requires airlines to compensate for emissions growth after 2020 by funding environmental initiatives. At least 65 nations, including the United States, China, and Europe, which account for 83 percent of all international flights, agreed to join the agreement which is expected to remove pollution equivalent to that produced by 35 million cars each year.

Then on October 15, negotiators from over 170 countries meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, reached a legally binding accord to reduce the worldwide use of chemical coolants called hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs used extensively in refrigerators and air-conditioners. HFCs are a greenhouse gas with 1,000 times the heat-trapping potency of carbon dioxide. As early as 2013, US President Obama and China President Xi Jinping had agreed to reduce their nations’ use of HFCs.

“This will be the trifecta of international climate agreements,” said Andrew Light who had been with the US negotiators. “It’s just extraordinary.”

The Philippines had a leading role in the approval of the Paris agreement in December, 2015, but President Duterte has expressed some reservations about it, saying that the Philippine commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 70 percent by 2030 may set back its economic development. New Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Gina Lopez said she hopes to explain the benefits of the agreement and win President Duterte’s approval.

With virtually all the nations of the world now moving as one on climate change, on so many levels and in so many fields from home refrigeration to international aviation, we must not be left behind in this worldwide movement for a cleaner, greener, and safer planet Earth.