It took them little under two weeks of drawn out discussions and debates, but finally on Saturday evening leaders and diplomats at the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris, France came to an agreement on the much-anticipated global climate change accord.
The final draft of the agreement was presented by French President Francois Hollande to delegates on Saturday morning, while thousands of impatient protestors flooded the streets of Paris in bid to see the already delayed pact wrapped up.
In a year that the UN has laid a number of targets that would prove to be milestones if realised, the accord marks the first time developed and developing countries come together to jointly combat and adapt to the recent alarming climate change across the globe.
What’s the Climate Change Accord All About?
Inside the 31-page final agreement are two very important sections:
- A commitment to maintain global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius.
- A bargain to protect low-lying nations against the slowly rising sea level by working to further reduce global warming to as low as 1.5 degrees Celsius.
That’s what the better part of the two-week debate has been all about: the two targets and, particularly, what should be done to achieve them.
One of the viable ways out of the warming crisis, as the Paris text states, is to increase “emission reduction efforts”. A promising number of nations have already submitted their pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions, which is a good sign, the UN notes, but that will only alleviate warming to 2.7 degrees, which according to experts, is still way above the “safe” maximum. The text calls for the “widest possible cooperation by all countries as climate change “represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet.”
That said, not everyone is 100% optimistic that the accord will bring about the climate change relief the world has been desperately hunting for. Not even after seeing numerous global talks over the subject in the past few decades come to sudden standstills. Some advocates who’ve voiced their doubts over the feasibility of the accord seem to be particularly dissatisfied with the lack of a well-defined parameter for measuring and verifying countries’ emission reductions. Also, the lack of a timeframe to eradicate the extraction and use of fossil fuels is a good reason the accord receives blemished support.
A Foundation For Progress
In an interview with huffingtonpost.com, though, one Mr. Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, thinks it’s too soon to start with the criticism. “This is a broad foundation for meaningful progress,” he said. “Anyone who suggests this is a success or a failure is only speaking based on ideology, not reality. Only 10 to 20 years from now, when we look at the implementation of all this, will we really know.”