Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The end of gloom and doom

"The end of the fossil fuel age."

The enthusiasm came from a delegate after 195 nations agreed at the climate change summit in Paris to limit the rise of global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and maybe down to 1.5C.

After two weeks of negotiations, the pact is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions.

It is partly legally binding as in, for example, submitting an emissions reduction goal. A $100-billion funding for poor countries by 2020, however, is not legally binding.

Scientists who have analyzed the agreement say it will cut emissions by about half of what is needed to prevent an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius.

As a result, all language on the reduction of carbon emissions is essentially voluntary. The deal assigns no concrete reduction targets to any country. Instead, each government has crafted a plan to lower emissions at home based on the country’s domestic politics and economy.

The accord uses the language of an existing treaty, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to require countries to verify their emissions and to periodically issue tougher domestic plans.

“The Paris Agreement is probably the most important international agreement in history,” says Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program. “Nations of the world have underlined that climate change is a threat to the security and prosperity of all societies, and can only be addressed through unity of purpose. A sustainable future benefits all of humanity.

"This agreement is a testament to the ability of our societies to set aside differences and confront collective challenges for the global good. Importantly, the agreement has provisions to protect the most vulnerable. Fairness and equity are at the heart of this accord.  

He says governments “have sent a signal to the private sector that the momentum toward sustainability cannot be stopped. This is what the world needed to see. Above all, we have given future generations hope instead of doom and gloom.” (SciencePhilippines)

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