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Essay: Does the Paris Agreement achieve its specified goals?

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One of the most hotly debated topics globally is global warming, also known as climate change. This biologists and environmentalists’ main concern today, as humanity’s effect on the earth is becoming more severe and irreversible. Today’s task for environmentalists and eco-activists is to involve as many people as possible in the conscientious use of dangerous and non-recyclable goods and materials, rather than only inventing ways and technologies to mitigate the mechanisms and effects of global warming.

International climate change policy has always seemed too little, too late in some respects. However, if we go back in time to the first operation benchmark, it was very early. The first World Climate Conference was held in 1979, with scientists discussing the possible effects of climate change on people. In 1988, the International Panel on Climate Change was established to formalize the international community’s awareness of climate change. In 1990, the IPCC issued its first paper, urging world leaders to shape a global climate treaty. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established in 1994 due to this. All 197 UN member states ratified the UNFCCC, and the first Conference of Parties (COP1) was held in Berlin, Germany, in 1992. As a result of this foresight, the world adopted its first climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, in 1997 at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP3) in Kyoto, Japan. The treaty’s primary goal is to limit GHG emissions in the world’s 37 developing countries. Participation is optional for developing countries, such as China and India, which rely heavily on coal. When Canada and Russia signed on in 2005, the Protocol became fully operational. The United States had already left in 2001, and Canada followed suit in 2011. The Kyoto Protocol is still in effect until 2020, with parties (a total of 192) committing to an 18% reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 levels.

In the meantime, the Paris Agreement has taken over the mantle from the Kyoto Protocol. According to talks aimed at fixing some of the Kyoto Protocol’s shortcomings, it sets a new net-zero international deadline for 2050. The world adopted the Paris Agreement, the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, in December 2015 at the UNFCCC’s COP21 in Paris, France. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement was reached by consensus, with all 197 member states signing on (for now). The signing period for the Paris Agreement was available from April 22, 2016, to April 21, 2017. “Signing is significant because it signifies a pledge by that country to refrain from actions that would defeat the aim and intent of the Agreement,” according to the World Resources Institute. Finally, for the treaty to take full effect, member states must officially ratify it. The Paris Agreement, on the other hand, does not set a deadline for signatories to do so. A total of 185 member states has ratified the Paris Agreement.

Setting aside the US viewpoint, for the time being, I’d like to focus on the Paris Agreement’s pitfalls in terms of achieving its specified goals:

1. The Paris Agreement’s cap won’t cover all countries and locations from climate change’s severe consequences. Climate goals do not go far enough to protect people living in vulnerable climates near deserts, such as the Sahel region of Africa.

2. So far, countries have only made voluntary promises (nationally declared contributions) to maintain air temperatures below 2.7-3.0 degrees Celsius, which is nowhere near the 1.5 degree Celsius “comfort zone.”

3. Rivalries and geopolitical tensions render the Paris Agreement’s “equality of inequalities” section especially difficult to enforce. For example, as part of President Obama’s promises, the United States decided to pay $3 billion voluntarily.

4. Efforts to quantify, track, and control GHGs are not uniform, and they fall short of the agreement’s specified goal of transparency.

5. The fossil fuel industry and its allies (gas-powered vehicles, fossil-fuel-powered infrastructure, and so on) will almost certainly suffer repercussions as fossil fuels are phased out. It’s important to remember, though, that this move isn’t solely due to the Paris Agreement. The cost of renewable energy has fallen below that of fossil fuels, providing an opportunity for developers to invest in renewable energy projects.

In short, while the Paris Agreement will seem to some to be a poor deal, it represents crucial steps toward achieving global climate change.

Although the Paris Climate Agreement’s premises are all beneficial, there are a few less apparent benefits that should be included. We face a complex global climate change crisis, which the Paris Agreement addresses. There is far more international agreement on the Paris Agreement than there was on the Kyoto Protocol. It has received funding from various private corporations, including fossil fuel firms such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell, demonstrating strong support outside state-level governance. It is consistent with other globally accepted environmental goals, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity. It also has health benefits, as attempts to minimize GHGs will boost overall health.

On rare occasions, almost all nations agree on a single issue. However, with the Paris Agreement, world leaders accepted that climate change is caused by human activity, that it is a danger to the environment and society as a whole, and that global intervention is needed to halt it. It also established a clear structure within which all countries would make commitments to reduce emissions and reinforce those commitments over time.

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