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(LEAD) S. Korea ratifies Paris Agreement on climate change

2016/11/03 18:31

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 5, 9-10)

SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's National Assembly on Thursday ratified the Paris Agreement, becoming the eighth country to endorse the international pact on reducing greenhouse gases among the world's top 10 emitters, the foreign ministry said.

Lawmakers passed a bill on the ratification of the Paris Agreement in a hastily arranged plenary meeting earlier in the day. A total of 19 ratification bills and resolutions related to foreign affairs and sports were passed in the session held amid unrelenting partisan tension over the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

The move came just one day before the international treaty officially enters into force after its adoption by 195 countries in December 2015.

The landmark deal aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 Celsius degrees, preferably 1.5 Celsius degrees above pre-industrial levels, in order to reduce risks and the impact of climate change. The Paris Agreement is to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2020.

China is the world's top greenhouse gas producer, accounting for slightly more than 20 percent of total global emissions, followed by the U.S. with 17.9 percent and Russia, according to recent United Nations data released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. South Korea is the ninth-largest emitter.

Russia and Japan are the only two countries among the top 10 nations that have yet to sign off on the agreement.

"Through the latest ratification of the Paris Agreement, the South Korean government, as a member of the new climate regime, will effectively react to climate change issues and proactively take part in the international community's effort to handle the matter," the Ministry of Foreign affairs said in a press release.

The ministry said South Korea will immediately present its instrument of ratification on the pact to the United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

Internally, the agreement goes into force on Dec. 3, 30 days after ratification.

In the Paris Agreement, South Korea committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent from the business-as-usual levels predicted for 2030.