In 2015, the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement, a treaty on climate change.Here’s a breakdown of what it really means.
Faced with the dire consequences of unchecked global warming, the world came together on 12 December 2015 – to create a legally binding contract to tackle climate change.
According to the European Commission, the Paris Agreement “sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts”.
With 195 signatories and 189 countries that have ratified the agreement, it is one of the largest collective efforts in the history of the world to come together for a common cause.
So what does it mean?
Simply put, the Conference of Parties 21 (COP) put together this agreement to ensure that every country committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the greater good. The goal was to ensure that the global temperature did not rise over 1.5°C in this century.
Every 5 years, the member countries get together to assess emissions targets and define new measures. With income disparity among countries, it isn’t possible to expect every country to become climate neutral without help. Wealthier nations have pledged to help poorer nations in making the switch to renewable energy.
Why do we need an agreement?
Climate change and global warming, a seemingly natural phenomenon, have happened at a much faster rate post-industrialisation. By several measures, our planet has already reached tipping point.
With the increased emissions in CO2, the atmosphere has been warming, leading to a number of events such as changing climate, natural disasters around the world, icecaps melting faster than normal, coral bleaching, changing ecosystems and migration patterns, water scarcity, sea levels rising, threatening low-lying areas across the world, and so on.
With many communities, animals, and ecosystems affected by climate change, it has become essential to come together and collectively find a solution to reduce the rate at which the world is heating up.
How many COPs are there?
The idea of a global framework is not new. In fact, the COP21 Agreement arose from a number of prior agreements from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 1992, to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and other agreements that led up to COP21 in 2015. Since the Paris Agreement, there have been 4 other meetings (COP22- COP25), one every year, with COP26 due to be held in Glasgow last year postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Have COPs changed industry?
With countries committed to reduce carbon emissions, there has been a push to invest in sustainable technologies and renewable energy sources.
Is the world on track to meet its commitment?
Recent reports suggest that the global temperature has already increased by 1°C. There is now an urgent call to take more action and not just reduce emissions, but also assist in the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. COP26 will be significant since countries will be expected to report their progress over the last five years (since the Paris Agreement).
With the world coming to halt due to the pandemic, the new Agreement could define a greener recovery plan and new milestones to be achieved for countries across the world.