In global politics, not everyone always gets along with each other. One belief that many countries share, however, is a desire to create a better world for future generations. The Paris Climate Agreement was enacted to do just that. What is the Paris Climate Agreement, you ask?
Coming into force on December 12, 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement was created as a means to help protect our planet. One of the primary goals of the agreement is to strengthen the global response to climate change by doing things like helping countries cut back on unnecessary waste.
Want to learn more about the Paris Climate Agreement? Here is all you need to know.
A Changing Planet
Over the last few centuries, humans have created and disposed of millions of tons of garbage. A lot of this waste is made from plastic and other non-biodegradable entities. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is emitted when these types of products are both produced and disposed of. This CO2 enters our atmosphere, leading to a rise in Earth’s greenhouse effect, which in turn results in higher average temperatures for our planet. The burning of fossil fuels also contributes to higher atmospheric CO2 levels.
Many scientists, like the late Stephen Hawking, have noted that we are getting increasingly closer to reaching the tipping point where the climate will be beyond repair if we don’t implement changes to reverse it. Rising sea levels, floods, droughts, food and water shortages – these are just a few of the potential side effects of global warming.
What Is the Paris Climate Agreement?
Thankfully, many scientists and leaders around the world are aware of the potential dangers of climate change. And that is where the Paris Climate Agreement comes into play.
The primary objective of the Paris Climate Agreement is to lower the Earth’s average temperature by 2 degrees celcius, or 3.6 degrees fahrenheit, by the year 2025. Almost every country on the planet is a part of the agreement, and it represents one of the first times the world has come together in an attempt to prevent the effects of climate change from happening.
Since finding a solution that would make sense for each individual country was deemed impossible, the creators decided that the guidelines of the agreement would allow each nation to choose how to reduce waste on their own accord. To help developing countries implement these changes, it was determined that richer nations would pool together to give $100 billion annually in aid for actions on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
To make sure countries are adhering to their proposed plans, there will be check-ins every 5 years where each nation will have to submit their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to measure progress.
Who Is Part of the Paris Climate Agreement?
Until recently, there were only two countries that hadn’t signed onto the agreement – Nicaragua and Syria. Nicaragua had its doubts, as they felt the agreement wasn’t strict enough to hold each country accountable, especially the larger polluters such as China, India, and the United States. They felt that the larger and richer countries owed more since historically they are the ones that have done the most damage.
Syria, meanwhile, was focused on resolving its own civil war at the time the document was written, and was unable to sign it in person due to US and European sanctions. As of November of 2017, however, these two countries have joined the agreement.
“The Paris Agreement, despite not being the ideal agreement, is the only instrument that currently allows this unity of intentions and efforts,” said Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.
Thus far, the United States is the only country in the world to announce its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. However, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the US is November 2020, shortly before the end of President Donald Trump’s current term.
Why Is the United States Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement?
The Obama administration had been in support of the Paris Climate Agreement, which is why many were stunned when President Trump decided to reject it in June of 2017, saying that it wasn’t a good deal for the country. The President has voiced repeatedly his doubts about the reality of climate change, and critics argue that Obama’s goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 26-28% by 2025 was too drastic, and that it could ultimately harm the US economy.
According to a study conducted by the EPA, the US produces roughly 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions each year, making it the the second largest contributor behind China, who emits about 30% annually. While the Trump administration works to reduce environmental regulations, at least 30 states have proposed implementing laws that would cut down on CO2 emissions.
Why Is the Paris Climate Agreement Important?
The Paris Climate Agreement is groundbreaking in that it marks the first time in history that the world has been unified to combat pollution and climate change. It was designed in a way so that even the world’s biggest polluters wouldn’t be scared away from the deal, as they are free to decide what types of changes they want to make and how to do so.
The agreement has brought forth a large-scale sense of urgency to reverse the impact of climate change before it’s too late. While dropping the overall temperature is an important first step, ultimately, it may take even more drastic measures to ensure a healthy planet for future generations.