Paris climate agreement: What you need to know

In December 2015, after years of negotiations, 195 countries made a new commitment to work together to address global climate change.

This landmark agreement, signed in France’s capital, Paris, and seen as a turning point for global climate policy, came into force on November 4, 2016.

As of June 2017, 195 UNFCCC (The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) members had signed the agreement, and 148 have ratified it.

1. What is the Paris climate agreement?

It is an agreement within the UNFCCC dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

The aim is to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

This level is considered a crucial tipping point, above which there will be serious consequences for global food production and more frequent and dangerous climate events, such as flooding and drought.

To achieve this, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to be cut by an estimated 40-70 percent by 2050, and by 2100 the planet must be carbon-neutral.

Under the Paris accord, each country must submit its own plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and address the impact of climate change.

The agreement as a whole is not legally binding and does not penalize nations who fail to meet their commitments.

But it does impose an obligation on countries to implement their plans, and includes a review process designed to pressure them into compliance and to increase the scope of their efforts every five years.

2. What countries are not in the Paris climate agreement?

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the accord and suggested he would seek a new deal, without offering any details. The US will join only Nicaragua and Syria as the countries to have not signed onto the agreement.

Nicaragua declined to sign the deal in the first place, arguing that it was too weak.

3. Is climate change real?

There is wide consensus within the scientific community that climate change is fueled by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”.

The temperature of Earth’s air and the quantity of heat trapped in its oceans continue to increase, with 2016 declared the hottest year on record.

Climate change could lead to political instability, increased societal tensions and could place new burdens on economies and governments, a report by the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists (AAAS) found. Large numbers of people will likely be displaced due to famine and drought.

A NASA-funded study said that global industrial civilization is headed for a collapse in the coming decades, blaming unsustainable resource use and increasing wealth inequality.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

4. When asked to talk about “the environment”, what do you think of first?

“Beginning from the stroke of New Year, as they sit down to their evening meal on 2 January, a US family will already have used, per person, the equivalent in fossil fuels that a family in Tanzania will depend on for the whole year.”-Andrew Simms

One World Institute has included in all its programs the environmental issues that our world faces today.

Here are some examples of what our students do during their program to leave their mark and show awareness to the problem.

Read more about LTTL Team 2 in Costa Rica and LTTL Team 1 in Belize.

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Climate Change in Pictures

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