The consensus from the Paris Climate Summit is here. The United Nations gathering, which included leaders and representatives from 150+ countries, agreed on the goal of keeping global temperature rise below the original, what seemed like unreachable, 2 degrees Celsius. The compromise was to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius globally. While this news is better than anticipated, we need to see action before we celebrate. The one degree rise that we have witnessed since the industrial revolution has already caused massive destruction. It is crucial that all participants uphold this agreement.
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, illustrates the speed at which we need to work to maintain a healthy planet. He states, “You’ve got to stop fracking right away (in fact, that may be the greatest imperative of all, since methane gas does its climate damage so fast). You have to start installing solar panels and windmills at a breakneck pace – and all over the world. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel have to end yesterday, and the huge subsidies to renewable energy had better begin tomorrow. You have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly, so everyone gets a clear signal to get off of it.”
Though this is one large step in the right direction, no binding contracts were made the day the conclusion was reached. What will hold countries accountable now, is that each country will need to resubmit their plans every five years. It forces everyone to have a peer review and seriously evaluate the issues at hand and what we need to do to change it. The monitoring of emissions is expected to be more transparent and comprehensive than ever before.
It is vital that we keep fighting for change, as this is not even close to being over or a real fix. We must implement immediate emission controls and embrace clean, renewable energy in a huge way.
Let’s hope everyone will heed the wise words of US President Barack Obama:
"If we let the world keep warming as fast as it is, and sea levels rising as fast as they are, and weather patterns keep shifting in more unexpected ways, then before long we are going to have to devote more and more and more of our economic and military resources not to growing opportunity for our people but to adapting to the various consequences of a changing planet."