Did you know that 69 percent of Americans are “somewhat worried” about climate change? 29 percent are reported to be “very worried.”
Climate change is one of the biggest problems facing humanity! If left unchecked, the coming climate breakdown is expected to cause untold disaster for many of the world’s people.
The Paris Climate Agreement is the most important development in the fight against global warming so far. Signed in 2016, it is considered a turning point toward a greener future.
And yet, many people are confused about what the Paris Agreement means. If you find the climate agreement too daunting to read, check out our helpful guide below!
1. What is the Paris Climate Agreement?
When the world’s leaders came together in 2015, they hoped that they could agree to deal with climate change. We’d been here before in Copenhagen in 2009.
Last time it failed. Fortunately, this time the determination to get an agreement was successful.
The agreement was signed by almost every state. It sets out to fight climate change and deal with the consequences of global warming. The task was to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
2. What is the Agreement’s Target?
The target was to limit the global rise in temperature to under 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. However, there is also a more ambitious target.
In the agreement, signatures express the desire to limit the rise in temperature below 1.5 degrees. This would avoid the more harmful consequences of climate change.
3. How Can This Target be Achieved?
Climate change is a global problem! That means that it can’t be tackled by individual states by themselves. And yet, each state has a set of different ways to contribute to the fight against climate change.
Since how each state generates energy is crucial to the challenge, the transition to renewable energy, such as solar, hydro and wind energy is essential. However, a range of other causes of climate change needs to be overcome. This includes the emissions caused by agriculture, transport, and manufacturing industries.
4. Which Nations Have Signed Up?
Every state has signed the agreement. However, only 179 states have formally approved the agreement. When President Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the agreement, only two countries were not signed up.
These included war-torn Syria and Nicaragua. However, since then, both countries have pledged to sign the agreement. This would leave the United States as the only country not signed up to the agreement.
There are, however, large emitting countries that have yet to formally adopt the agreement. These include Turkey, Iran, and Russia.
5. Why Does the United States Want to Leave?
Not everyone in the United States wants to leave the agreement. Over 83 percent of the public wants the government to do more to tackle climate change.
Moreover, there are a bunch of organizations and state and local governments putting programs in place to meet the goals of the climate change agreement.
However, the US federal government is against the Paris Agreement. In July 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Trump has also repeatedly denied the existence of climate change.
In fact, Trump has argued that the United States should withdraw because he cares about the environment. It is argued that the agreement would make it difficult for the administration to support so-called “clean coal“.
6. Has the United States Already Left?
Trump’s statement that “we’re getting out” isn’t quite what it seems. There is a process for withdrawal. No country can withdraw until three years after the agreement has been in force.
Then, leaving the treaty requires another year of notice. Therefore, the quickest the United States could formally leave the agreement is November 4, 2020.
That’s the day after the presidential election. Therefore, quite a lot rests on who wins the 2020 presidential election. After all, it’s thought that a Democrat president would rejoin the agreement.
7. What Could the Paris Agreement Achieve?
Of course, the target is limiting the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This could be achieved if states go carbon neutral.
If every state does what they say they’ll do, then the goal could be reached. However, a lot of this is guesswork from scientists who cannot say anything for certain. We’re in uncharted territory.
8. How do we Know States are Doing What They Said They Would?
The Paris Agreement also focuses on transparency and reporting. This allows the public to be aware of the developments in climate change policy in their home country. This hopefully allows for accountability.
States signed up to the agreement also agree to meet every five years to adjust the plans for tackling climate change. Therefore, as the latest technology and science emerge, states can make more ambitious targets.
9. What Has Been Achieved So Far?
There have been some promising stories recently that may give you hope that the goal of defeating climate change can be achieved. For example, India’s economy was dependent on coal consumption only five years ago.
However, recently India has introduced plans to scrap coal power plants and adopt solar energy.
10. Is Everything Going to be Alright?
The Paris Agreement was a landmark moment. However, we’re not out of the woods yet. Recent reports have found that the Earth is increasingly threatened by climate change.
The glacial melting in Antarctica is causing growing worries that our targets are not ambitious enough. Temperatures are growing at a rapid rate. It is unclear whether the world’s economy can move quickly enough.
Learn More About Environmental Problems?
Now you know what the Paris Climate Agreement is all about. It’s an encouraging step in the right direction. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work involved to save the planet from global warming over the coming years.