CLIMATE CHANGE; PARIS CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Introduction

Joe Lieberman asserts that “global warming is not a conqueror to kneel before but a challenge to rise to”. Global warming, a climate change impact, is a worrying issue in the current generation and if care is not taken earlier, the next generations will be affected negatively. Notably, the present generation is already alarmed with the impacts of climate change. It has consequences that are far from being good. The earth was once a cool place to live but as years go by, it is getting warmer as compared to the previous generations. The planet Earth is gradually warming up thusly posing a threat to man, animals and plants in the present and the coming generations.

A body of research have been done on how this global issue can be prevented. They have also explored how global warming has impacted the world. Additionally, studies have also evidenced on the course of this phenomenon. The Royal society asserts that climate change at this juncture is unavoidable. It adapts to changes that resonates from the previous decades’ emissions by nations. The society therefore states that nations must prepare for the changes. This means that global warming cannot be averted overnight. It will require nations to make proper planning, preparations and devote themselves to safeguard the future generations.

International Efforts on Climate Change

The United Nations has been on the frontline in combating this global issue of late. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit marked the beginning of the process of combating global warming, with the adoption of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that binds all nations in working towards mitigating the dangerous human caused climate change. The framework notably, was anchored on the idea that the climate change was entirely a human fault and a concern for humankind. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, being an implementation of the Framework was adopted. The protocol covered 170 countries and committed developed nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emission by 5% to 7% from the levels experienced in 1990 by 2012. The Kyoto Protocol was however signed but not ratified by US. Worth noting is that the Kyoto Protocol did not come into effect not until 2005. This is because it had not the minimum number of states needed to ratify the agreement. At least 55 countries were to ratify the agreement translating to 55% of world’s emissions (United Nations Foundation, 2013).

The European Union have also taken a step in mitigating the problem. In 2005, European Union Emissions Trading System was launched. The system was anchored on cap and trade principle. This means that a cap is set on the amount of greenhouse gases institutions or companies emit with participants being given some allowances. December 2008, it set up a series of legislative frameworks known as Energy and Climate Package. The Energy and Climate Package set up targets to be met by 2020: to reduce greenhouse emission by 20 percent, improve energy efficiency (also known as 3×20 objective) and to increase the share of renewable energies in the energy mix to 20 percent (Planète Énergies, 2016).

The international community further came together in December 2009 under what is known as Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. This conference aimed at forging a new agreement that would succeed the Kyoto Protocol. This conference defined the maximum acceptable increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, this meeting did not bear much fruits as participants did not come to an agreement on the target of greenhouse gas emission reductions to ameliorate global warming problem. Another notable conference, known as Cancun Climate Change Conference was held in Cancun Mexico in December 2012. The outcome of this conference was an agreement by parties to establish Green Climate Fund accounted with $100 billion annually from 2020. These funds are to help developing countries address climate change and deforestation (Planète Énergies, 2016). The conference preceded Rio+20 Conference held in Rio, Brazil. This conference brought to the attention of international communities the climate change and was attended by government leaders and civil society representatives.

Paris Conference (COP21)

Paris Conference or COP21 came after the Rio+20 Conference. It was held from November to December 2015. This agreement required all nations, both developing and developed nations to commit themselves in addressing climate change. This agreement has set minimum obligations for countries, devised and implemented strategies to spur the developing and vulnerable countries in mitigating climate change and also established systems that would hold countries to their commitments. The Paris Conference deviated from the usual legal sanctioning’s and adopted a new approach in implementing its objectives, which is naming and shaming. This is in a bid in ensuring parties make their annual contribution every five years that will help in combating climate change. This agreement however has gained wide support from the developing countries because it recognises two demands of the developing nations spanning for a decade: standing of adaptation in the international climate regime and recognition of existence of adverse climate impacts that cannot be adapted to and which therefore have to be dealt with (Obergassel et al., 2016).

Objective of the Agreement

The main objective of the agreement was to reduce the global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and also to cap the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Additionally, the agreement aims at increasing the “ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.” Moreover, its other objective is to make finance flows in tandem with a “pathway towards low greenhouse emission and climate-resilient development.” The latter acknowledges developing countries’ concern on development that need to be taken into consideration in a bid to mitigate climate change (Obergassel et al., 2016).

COP21 Protest

One critique of the Paris conference is Naomi Klein. Klein protest that the conference does not give a voice to the popular and has only does this to the corporates. According to Klein, they have been isolated. She states, “We always knew that this was going to be the most corporate-sponsored COP, it’s a victim of austerity … You should at least be able to have a dialogue between the corporate solutions and the popular solutions, but only one side of the debate is being given a megaphone and the other side is being hauled out or banned.” (Howard, 2015).

During the conference in 2015, more than 6,500 protesters marched in the streets of Paris protesting over the conference. According to them, “the bar was set too low for success.” They gathered at the Eiffel Tower in denouncing the climate agreement made at the COP21. One such protester was Siriol Hugh-Jones from UK. According to him the rich nations were only focused on gaining from oil and gas corporations at the expense of mitigating climate change (Lillywhite, 2015).

Outcome

The Parties to the UNFCCC ably concluded a treaty under International law, with an inventive lawful approach with a specific end goal of fulfilling the quirks of the USA. The fruitful outcome of Paris consequently re-established a portion of the trust in in international diplomacy lost in the course of the most recent decade (Obergassel et al., 2016).

 

Conclusion

The process of combating climate change witnessed by incessant global warming begun in the last decade when it was evident that human activities are to blame. Though a problem was realised, commitment from international community has not been forthcoming not until recently when an agreement was reached by both developed and developing nations. Though termed as a successful conference, the fruits from COP21 will only be determined with time.

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