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A big if....

The politicians - and their inevitable entourage - have all spent the taxpayer's money travelling to New York to sign up to the Paris Climate agreement.....but is it the real deal or simple posturing for the folks back home and lacking a will to put into place a concerted attack on countering climate change?

"The Paris climate agreement, hammered out at last December's COP21 talks and signed Friday by close to 170 nations, is alternately being hailed as "a turning point for humanity" and denounced as "a dangerous distraction."

There's no doubt that the deal "is the capstone of years and years of hard work," as Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) president Ken Kimmell put it on Thursday.

And the magnitude of the ceremonial signing in New York—attended by countries ranging from tiny Palau to major polluters like the U.S. and China—"confirms there's strong global will to act urgently to limit the dire impacts of climate change, by shifting away from fossil fuels toward clean renewable energy and efficiency technologies," said Kimmell's colleague, UCS director of strategy and policy Alden Meyer.

But Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), said the ceremony was merely the "global elite's theater," lacking "substance on implementation and ambition."

Requiring, as it does, countries to set their own targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in an effort to keep global warming below 2°C, "The formal signing of the Paris Agreement could be the next nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry," said 350.org executive director May Boeve, "if governments actually follow through on their commitments."

That's a big "if."

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