The Paris Agreement Failure

The European Union has presented a common goal for its 28 Member States (UK, for now included). It has already adopted joint agreements on climate and renewable energy sources and has raised its targets, which will be updated next year in the Paris Agreement. The EU`s current target is to reduce emissions by at least 40% from 1990 to 2030 levels. It is currently on track for a 48% cut and has already voted in favour of a legal increase in the target to 55%. But that`s not enough either. Specifically. In Paris, countries pursued two long-term goals. A temperature target to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and reach 1.5 degrees Celsius. A difference of 0.5 degrees Celsius is significant and an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius could mean for many countries that their country, or part of it, will become habitable before the end of this century. And a second target of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, between 2050 and 2100.

In order to achieve these two long-term goals, a mechanism has been adopted under which, every five years from 2020, all countries will present their strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Five years is short enough to ensure that governments act so often that they are caught up in short-term solutions that coincide with election cycles. The language of the agreement allows developing countries to increase their emissions further, but at a lower level than the “business-as-usual” level, depending also on the aid they will receive from rich countries. One thing is certain: this agreement will not be enough to limit the average temperature of global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, let alone the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature that the agreement itself considers necessary. However, for domestic policy reasons in most countries and in the current geopolitical reality, this is the best deal we have been able to reach. That is why we cannot place all our hope in such an international agreement and action must be taken at all levels at which we are all involved. The widespread failure to combat the existential threat of climate change has led more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries to sign a “World Scientists” Warning of a Climate Emergency declaration. Whatever the report on climate promises, the statement begins: “Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to say it as it is.” Paris Agreement, 2015.

The most important global agreement to date, the Paris Agreement, obliges all countries to make commitments to reduce emissions. Governments set targets known as national contributions, with a view to preventing the average global temperature from rising by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to strive to keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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