What exactly is the Paris Climate Agreement?
With Syria recently joining the Paris climate agreement, the USA is the only country not part of it. But what exactly is the Paris Climate Agreement? and what does the USA staying out mean?
The aim of the agreement is to keep the average warming of the earth below 2 degrees celsius, to prevent catastrophic consequences of global warming. The developing countries that have contributed less to global warming are the most vulnerable it’s effects, as they have the most food and water insecurity, less access to medicine, and less infrastructure. It would be unfair to say these couldn’t grow their economies with fossil fuels the way already developed countries did.
It was worked out how quickly the earth would have to stop emitting greenhouse gasses to keep global warming below another 2 degrees. Then depending on several factors such as; how developed each country is, how big their population is, and how much they are currently emitting, they divided up that responsibility.
Every country had a goal, and some countries that had benefited a lot from using fossil fuels gave funding to developing countries so they can grow their economies with less reliance on fossil fuels. Each country is responsible for meeting their own goal. This could be through; increasing energy efficiency, subsidising renewables, regulating businesses, educating the public, and ending fossil fuel subsidies.
However there are no consequences for any country that does not meet their goal. This is where the United States becomes important. If everyone is involved it creates an unspoken standard that everyone must meet, however if one country does nothing it opens the doors for other countries to do the bare minimum and say “well at least we’re doing more than them”, and the accords quickly break down. On top of this the US produces 18% of the world’s emissions with only 4% of the total population. Although the Paris agreement can still function without America, we can only truly tackle climate change as a global problem if every country is involved.
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