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146 Countries Covering Almost 87% of Global Emissions Submit Climate Plans Ahead of Paris

Climate

A total of 146 countries, representing almost 87 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have submitted their intended national climate action plans to the United Nations.

This means that so far more than 75 percent of all member countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have responded. This includes all developed countries under the convention and 104 developing countries or almost 70 percent of UNFCCC developing member states.

More than 80 percent of the plans include quantifiable objectives and also more than 80 percent include intended actions to adapt to climate change.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC said: “Over the past few months, the number of countries submitting their climate action plans to the Paris agreement has grown from a steady stream into a sweeping flood. This unprecedented breadth and depth of response reflects the increasing recognition that there is an unparalleled opportunity to achieve resilient, low-emission, sustainable development at national level. ”

“The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) can be seen as an impressive portfolio of potential investment opportunities that are good for each individual country and good for the planet,” she said.

The UNFCCC secretariat, as requested by parties to the convention, will provide a synthesis report of all these plans on Nov. 1.

More countries will continue to submit their plans ahead of the Paris UN climate change conference from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

The European Union is also counted as a separate "party" to the UNFCCC in addition to all its members, which means that a total of 147 parties to the convention have submitted plans.

National Level Planning Across Diverse National Circumstances

The Paris agreement is to be a turning point that puts the world on track to the low-emission, climate resilient and sustainable future that is the only way to keep global average temperatures from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius, the internationally-agreed defense line against the worst impacts of climate change.

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In a paradigm shift towards a truly national response to climate change, countries facing many diverse circumstances, from poorest to richest, from largest to smallest, have presented INDCs which are national in scope and with the increased focus on quantifiable objectives.

Many INDCs also take a long term vision of climate action, underlining a growing understanding that unlocking the opportunities from ambitious climate action will require a transformation of how power is produced and consumed and how environments are managed now and over decades to come.

In addition, many countries from all continents, including some of the poorest and most vulnerable to climate change, have presented INDCs that include necessary action to adapt to climate impacts to protect continued sustainable development.

Cooperative Effort to Complete Climate Action Plans

Developed world governments, UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations, have been providing assistance to developing countries to prepare their plans.

“Over the past few months, the number of countries submitting their climate action plans to the Paris agreement has grown from a steady stream into a sweeping flood," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC.

“The impressive number of INDCs is only matched by the unique process that has underpinned their submission, with many developing countries having been assisted by developed country governments, the United Nations system and others to prepare them in detail and on time,” said Ms. Figueres.

“In addition, many countries have engaged in an unprecedented dialogue across government ministries, sectors of their economy and often involving other stakeholders in order to finalize their contributions. This intense engagement and reflection within nations provides a good foundation for current and future ambition,” she said.

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"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.