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Science

The Paris Agreement and Climate Change

Eiffel Tower lit up for COP21
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What is this COP21 all about? It is the twenty-first Conference of Parties (COP), in which the parties are the signatory countries of the 1992 UNFCCC, expanded as United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Leaders of more than 190 countries meet and discuss the initiatives of their governments, aimed to bring down the average rise in global temperature below 2 degree Celsius and that is easier said than done.

Eiffel Tower lit up for COP21

Eiffel Tower lit up for COP21 [Pic: arc2020.eu]

Energy and Climate Change

World’s economic growth is a lot dependent on energy production, which in turn plays a major role in pushing up the levels of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. Two-thirds of the global GHG emissions is due to energy production to meet our growing demands and fuel our economic growth engines. The world we live in started witnessing consistent economic growth in the past 200 years, with the energy production from fossil fuels playing a primary role. Thus, does bringing down the GHG emissions mean bringing down the usage of fossil fuels and thus, growth? Not likely. The direct relationship between energy production and economic growth has started to unwind in the recent years, say reports.

In 2014, while the C02 emission has remained the same, the global economy has grown by 3%. Indeed, we are not arguing about bringing to a halt the world energy production, but to generate energy with better ways and means that doesn’t make the planet uninhabitable for the future generation, as it is increasingly becoming, which is evident through the climatic changes across the globe.

In 2014, more than half of the world energy production has been made possible through renewable means and in the US, one-third of the energy is generated from solar power in the same year. During these years, the world economy has not seen any considerable downturn reflecting the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

The countries participating in COP21 have submitted INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) reflecting their commitment towards building a cleaner energy sector, by bringing down the level of carbon emissions. There are certain issues that can obstruct a strong deal in Paris conference, mainly the disparity between developed and developing economies.

What had been happening before COP21 was that the entire responsibility of cutting down carbon emissions was with the developed economies, as the developing economies need more energy to become developed nations. But with COP21, the responsibility lies with everyone alike.

Countries like US and China has grown to economic elitism by riding the wave of energy production using fossil fuels, whereas developing economies like India has pledged commitment to reduce emissions, which will hinder the nation’s progress. Bringing down the emission level would hinder the progressive agenda of Indian economy. Thus, the developing economies should be allowed more ‘carbon space’ that entitles them to emit more carbon than the developed countries, argues India. To make it short, the developed countries must cut down their emission levels considerably than the developing ones, which is not agreed by the economic elites.

Also, the developing nations would require support, both financially and technologically to transform their energy sectors to cleaner ones, which is another claim that is not supported by the developed economies. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s urge for a climate fund of $100 billion dollars from the rich countries until 2020 has seen a sluggish response. These differences in opinions can hamper a strong climate deal in COP21, Paris.

Expectations from COP21

Expectations from COP21 [Pic: panda.org]

Thus, if we need a convincing deal that can help the planet survive for more number of years, there need to be some compromises, from both the sides of the table. COP21 is just the beginning of a much broader agenda to save the planet, which will set the trend for the future course of actions for a prolonged period of lives thriving on earth.

After being heedless towards nature for centuries, our first step towards making earth a safer place again just cannot fail. As no one can be a better teacher than nature, it wants us all to come together.

Related Video: What Is COP21? The 2 Minute Guide

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