Celebrated every year on April 22, Earth Day aims to encourage people across the world to be more environmentally friendly. Today, leaders from over 150 countries will officially sign the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day 2016. The deal was thrashed out in Paris last December in order to stem global warming. The signing makes this year’s Earth Day one of the most important in years. It’s the largest one-day signing of any international agreement, according to the UN.
The historic agreement, which was adopted by consensus in the French capital in December, will be deposited at the United Nations in New York in a bid to get other countries to sign up to it. However, signing is only one step in a tortuous UN process for the deal to come into force. The process requires formal approval by at least 55 nations representing 55 per cent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. In many countries, that needs a parliamentary vote. The agreement is scheduled to come into force in 2020.
The very first event for Earth Day was held in America nearly five decades ago on April 22, 1970 following a devastating oil spill. Now it is coordinated globally by the non-profit Earth Day Network, which describes it as ‘the largest secular holiday in the world’. Each year, festivals, parades and rallies are held in at least 192 countries to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It also has its own anthems – one of which is performed to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, but with lyrics about protecting the planet.
According to recent WRI data, 10 countries produce around 70 percent of global green house gas (GHG) emissions.
Among the top 10 absolute emitters, only two have per capita emissions that are below the world average. Canada, the United States, and Russia emit more than double the global average per person. On the other end of the spectrum, India’s per capita emissions are only one-third of the global average.
The graph below expands the time period from 1850 to 2011, during which data only on CO2 emissions are continuously available. In this case, the five major emitters—the United States, European Union, China, Russian Federation, and Japan— together contributed two-thirds of the world’s historic CO2 emissions.
Today is the perfect time for each of us to start thinking about the planet we live on and do whatever possible to save it … everyday. Let’s go green from now!