What is the Paris Climate Agreement?

The Paris agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change” – European External Action Service

The Paris Agreement, If you’re wondering where it’s come from, is a summit meeting held in a different location every year by the United Nations Climate Change Conference Committee, the most highly publicised of these talks is quite obviously the one held in Paris in 2015 because of the actual accountable action that will be taken following the events of this meeting. Another highly publicised and discussed conference of this kind was the one held in 2009 in Copenhagen, but rather than being praised for great achievements in global solidarity about climate change, it was unashamedly criticised for not delivering anything of worth to the global community. The conference did not achieve any binding agreement for long-term action to take over the previous agreement created in Kyoto, aptly named the Kyoto Protocol, which is an international treaty created in 1997 that commits countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on the scientific evidence that global warming is currently occurring.

At the conference in Paris, 178 countries signed an agreement that committed them to aid in the efforts to keep the global temperature rise of this century well below the 2° predicted margin we would be on track for if nothing were to change. There will also be stronger efforts by more polluting countries to pursue a limit closer to 1.5° as this is also achievable if the greatest amount of action we’re to be taken. There will be Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) whereby the most polluting countries must carry out the largest efforts to reach the goals, and also whereby the individual countries relative capabilities in regards to funding and achievability are taken into account. Action in developing and more vulnerable countries will be streamlined to fit their needs and ability to achieve these global goals, monetary aid will be given to help them achieve this, since these places would most likely be gravely affected by the aftermath of climate change such as global flooding, extreme weather conditions, severe drought and famine.

To reach these new goals more money and effort will be pumped into newly developed technologies such as renewable energy sources and sustainable living. China announced last September, following the Paris agreement, that it has already started to cap carbon emissions from 6 different industrial sectors in an effort to clean up the countries massive problem with toxic air pollution. It will launch a national carbon trading scheme whereby large carbon emitters can buy and sell emission credits as long as they lie beneath the newly enforced carbon caps. This new dialogue among countries in our effort to combat global climate change has also done wonders for government transparency, the agreement states that all countries must declare their contributions to the strategy for all the world to see, thus inciting a lot of peer pressure for all countries to give it their best shot. Every 5 years there will be a meeting in which there will be a global stock take on the new environmental figures and a review of the targets set and weather they have been met. There will be no fines or penalties if targets are not met, however, this is to help optimise the efficiency of poorer countries rather than making everything worse for them by slapping them with a huge fine for not doing well.

This agreement made is a huge moral triumph for the earth and a global recognition of the existence and effects of climate change, because even though we think we live in the modern world, climate change deniers still exist among us. Environmentalists are feeling huge reassurance that their speeches and life’s works are finally being recognised as valid, and the world is taking a step in the right direction. The denying of climate change and the unwillingness to do anything about it, however, is how we have managed to get into this whole mess in the first place, if we knew at the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and even way before that, that something had to be done, why has it taken so long to achieve even an agreement? None of these actions have been completed yet so who knows if most of the countries involved will even keep to their individual pledges. We can only hope that they will. The opposition to these kinds of deals in earlier years will most likely have been from large influential companies who emit most of  the world’s carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses just through the production and selling of their products who do not want to stop and think about the environment for any given minute because it would discourage people from buying their product and therefore have an overall effect on profit made. It seems that they may have seen the slight error in their ways, without really admitting it, now that the globe has reached a true crisis point in terms of temperature and natural disasters and the governments who let all of this industry pollution happen will now have to take these appropriate steps to hopefully fix the problem.

Therefore, in conclusion, The Paris Climate Agreement is an extremely good thing that makes countries all over the world accountable for their actions, or inactions, when it comes to the subject of climate change, but have we left it all too late to make a significant difference? Only the real efforts of the countries involved and the process of time will be able to give an answer.

Please continue your personal efforts to help with climate change with our 10 simple ways to live a more eco-friendly life because if everyone truly did their best, then I believe there is a real chance for change.

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