Saturday, January 9, 2016

5 Things to Know about the Paris Climate Agreement - Do Justice!

The Paris Agreement is a big deal, and the Christian Reformed Church knows it. 

You’ve likely heard a lot lately about the Paris climate talks that wrapped up a few weeks ago, and you’ve likely been left wondering what it’s all about. The follow up from Paris has seen lots of high talk from government officials and lots of complicated jargon, but little plain-English explanations of what the agreement actually says and what it means.

The Paris Agreement is a big deal, and the CRC knows it. That’s why we sent a delegation to be present at the negotiations in order to provide a public witness and to report back on the proceedings.

The work of turning the words of the Paris Agreement into action is already underway in the CRC.

So in case you’ve been wondering what this whole Paris Agreement is all about, here are five things you need to know:

1. It is monumentally historic
Never before has every nation of the world adopted an agreement on climate change. Rather than prescriptive demands imposed upon nations, the Paris Agreement is based on nationally determined commitments that each country submitted based on their individual circumstances.

2. It sets a clear long-term temperature goal for the world
The Paris Agreement committed to keep “global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” This new goal is a big deal and took most experts by surprise. It is a testament to the advocacy of low-lying vulnerable nations and NGOs that pushed hard at the talks for a more ambitious long-term goal as a matter of survival for their people.

3. It calls for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century.
“Net zero emissions” simply means that by the end of the century, the world will have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions significantly, and what is still emitted will be sustainably offset by things like forests and oceans which absorb greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide--the most important greenhouse gas). The UN panel of expert scientists (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has said that the world must reach net zero emissions by 2070 to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

4. It mobilizes billions of dollars for poor and developing nations
The Paris Agreement commits funds to be provided by developed nations to assist developing nations in the transition away from fossil fuels and in adapting to the effects of climate change that they are already experiencing.

5. It is the starting point, not the finish line
The agreement is a framework; a mutual agreement on how the world will move forward in the coming decades to address the challenge of climate change. Governments, lawmakers, and advocates (that’s you!) will now need to do the hard work of following up the important words of the Paris Agreement with even more important action.

The full article is available here