The Paris Climate Summit drew to a close in early December with a legally-binding agreement to limit warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. This ambitious target has been welcomed to some extent by many environmental groups. However, let us keep in mind that a rise of 1˚C above pre-industrial levels has already been reached. This a trend that shows no signs of slowing or abating, as evidenced by the announcement from the Australian government that they will be expanding a coal terminal in north Queensland, a move that will make it one of the largest coal ports in the world.
To reach this target, drastic measures will need to be taken by the global community. Prior to the talks around 180 countries had pledged to cut or curb their carbon emissions. As they are these pledges would probably bring warming to roughly 2.7-3˚C above pre-industrial levels, the agreement from Paris therefore brings in a condition that these pledges must be reviewed and strengthened every five years, the first review will take place in 2018.
Although the targets have been heralded as historic, there is a feeling that they leave some things to be desired. Not all the targets have been made legally binding, most noticeably the commitment for developed countries to provide financial support for developing countries to adapt to climate change and make the transition to renewables. Some feel that not enough has been written in to the agreement to support poorer countries who have so far contributed relatively little to climate change but are already suffering the consequences.
However, it is felt that something very positive has come out of Paris. As long as stringent measures are put in place, and put in place quickly, to ensure that the agreement is adhered to. The deal could see accelerated phasing out of fossil fuels and transition to clean energy as well as the birth of powerful new carbon markets to allow countries to trade their emissions and protect forests. The Paris climate agreement could well be the turning point environmentalists have been waiting for.
Source: The Guardian