The upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in November is a big deal.
The conference may very well set the course for the reversal of our planet’s current climate problems, or worryingly, it could lead to our world’s continued decline.
Starting on November 30 and ending December 11, the Conference will attract high-level representatives from more than 190 nations in hopes that a new global agreement on climate change, including targets to reduce greenhouse gases, will be reached.
Why is Paris especially important?
Nations coming together to discuss environmental issues isn’t a new concept – but historically, global agreements on emissions targets have not been fruitful.
Back in 1992, governments met in Rio De Janeiro and formed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This agreement never defined what actions government should actually take to combat climate change and debate continued on for years afterwards, especially surrounding the responsibility of first-world countries versus developing nations.
Eventually in 1997 the Kyoto protocol was established, a pact that required worldwide cuts in emissions of about 5%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2012. The agreement excluded heavy-polluting countries such countries, including China, South Korea and Mexico and was never legally binding because countries representing 55% of global emissions needed to ratify it (and didn’t).
That was until 2004 (thanks to Russia, surprisingly) and the protocol finally came into force. It wasn’t until several years later in 2009 however, when an agreement was finally reached by developed and major developing countries alike to set limits on their greenhouse gas emissions. Almost 20 years in the making, this was a landmark event, but a comprehensive and legally-binding treaty was still missing.
The Paris Climate Change Conference is so important because (it’s hoped) new and worthwhile targets post-2020 will be reached and legally locked in.
What’s at stake?
The world’s global temperature is increasing. According to scientists it’s approaching ‘the point of no return’, that is, past the threshold where global warming damage becomes irreversible. According to a detailed article from The Guardian, ‘that threshold is estimated as a temperature rise of 2C above pre-industrial levels, and on current emissions trajectories we are heading for a rise of about 5C.’
If that becomes the case, we should expect rising sea levels, melting polar ice, droughts, floods and increasingly extreme weather to become the norm.
Where does Australia fit?
The current Government’s attitude towards climate change could be described as ‘complacent’ at best.
Here at Solargain, we think that all countries no matter their size or relative pollution levels should contribute as much as possible to reducing carbon dioxide, as well as conduct regular reviews of best practice.
Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters has slammed Australia’s Paris targets (19 per cent emissions cut on 2000 levels by 2030) and says Australia is simply not doing enough.
‘The Turnbull government's Paris targets are so bad that they not only isolate Australia from the trade and job opportunities of the clean energy future but they could have a wrecking effect on global ambition at these pivotal talks’ Senator Waters said.
‘Direct Action is a complete sham and a fig leaf to cover up the fact we are doing next to nothing.’
You can do your part for cutting emissions by installing solar power and solar hot water on your home. Visit our website to learn more.
For updates on the progress of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change conference find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.