On the Paris Climate Agreement

By Rahil Modi

Note: This is a topic explanation only. No analysis will be provided.

On the Surface

The Paris Climate Summit (COP21) took place in December of 2015. The result was the adoption of the first-ever universal climate deal by 195 countries. All countries involved have set ambitious goals, but some will have a harder time of achieving them than others.

The US and the EU: Lofty Goals

The United States is the second-largest polluter in the world, but recently has been taking measures to try and decrease emissions.

Currently, the U.S. is investing in greener forms of energy (such as solar and wind power), as well as energy efficiency–everything from buildings and cars to cellphones and washing machines. At the Summit, the United States pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025.

The European Union isn’t as heavy a polluter as the U.S. is, but they too have taken measures to try and curb emissions. They pledged to reduce domestic emissions by 40% by 2030. Countries such as Germany and France have already begun to shift to green energy, but their progress has been hampered by high energy prices.

China: 

China is the world’s largest polluter. People throughout the world are undoubtedly familiar with images of smog-heavy cities and Chinese citizens forced to wear masks when outside. 

China set extremely ambitious goals for themselves in Paris: they plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 65% by 2030.

China also plans to plant a 50 million hectare (124 acres) forest, which will create a 1-gigaton carbon sink (from Wikipedia: “A carbon sink is a natural or artificial reservoir that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period”). The creation of this forest is equivalent to taking 770 million cars off the road, or stopping tropical deforestation for an entire year.

The Developing World: A Change in Upward Trajectory

Developing regions such as India, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America have felt the harshest effects of climate change.

Fortunately, the Paris Climate Agreement has urged these countries to set aside more of their budget towards helping to mitigate climate change. The talks also resulted in a blueprint that will provide developing countries $100 billion annually by 2020 to support their efforts. Overall, this will prove to be beneficial for the developing world: green energy technologies will improve public health and the expansion of rural development while maintaining sustainability and environmental quality.

 

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