COP21 Boasts Breakthrough in Tech, Economics to Address Global Warming: “History is Here”
Did the COP21 bid adieu to fossil fuels? Nearly 200 countries collaborated in Paris to create a landmark global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that would reduce global temperature rise below 3.6-dgrees Fahrenheit (2-degree Celsius) As environmental champion Bill McKibben put it, “This agreement won’t save the planet. It may have saved the chance to save the planet (if we all fight like hell in the years ahead).”
In a post for Grist, McKibben adds the crucial paragraph to break down is:
Emphasizing with serious concern the urgent need to address the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C …
He translates this to plain English, noting that “In the agreement, the world promises to hold the rise in the planet’s temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. Heck, it promises to aim for 1.5 degrees, which is extraordinary. It’s what actually needs to be done; if we succeeded, it might just head off complete calamity.”
A Tall Order for Change
The two-week long summit culminated in 195 countries acknowledging respective national demands, accepting scientists’ warning signs, and collaborating to create a document “far higher than anything that’s come before.” While acknowledging the urgency of the global threat of climate change was a crucial first step, the climate accord’s real testament to progress will be measured by what actions are taken next by all nations involved. Key stakeholders will play a pivotal role in upholding their responsibilities, including subnational authorities, the private sector, and financial institutions.
“This like the best Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Your (National Science Foundation) Grant Was Funded Without Revisions all rolled into one big package with fancy French wrapping, ever,” Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech
- All nations set firm goals for carbon pollution reduction to be re-examined every five years in hopes to bolster initiatives to adapt to scientific and technological innovation.
- Reach zero net emissions of global greenhouse gas pollution by the second half of this century.
- Wealthy countries must annually distribute over $100 billion to poorer nations to assist with pollution and consequences of global warming.
- There is a large gap in energy goals, despite “even though achieving its goals will require nothing less than a global energy revolution.”
- In 31-pages does, there is no mention of fossil fuels, the core of the problem.
- No real requirement was established for countries to meet their national emissions targets. This concession by the U.S. was largely due to the difficulty of passing the requirement through the Senate.
The world may have a long way to go in terms of addressing global warming, but the Paris summit commanded a serious start to international change. As Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo concluded, “The wheel of climate action turns slowly but in Paris it has turned, this deal itself won’t dig us out of the hole we are in, but it makes the sides much less step.”