The Paris Agreement of 2015 was a landmark international effort to combat climate change, with 196 countries committing to limit global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Since then, some countries have taken concrete steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy, but many are still falling short of their targets. With only a decade left to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021 is crucial. Some of the key challenges that negotiators will face include securing more ambitious emissions reduction targets, addressing issues of climate finance, and agreeing on rules for carbon markets.
From Paris to COP26: Global Efforts to Address Climate Change
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, with severe impacts on the environment, economy, and society. The Paris Agreement of 2015 marked a landmark international effort to combat climate change, with 196 countries committing to limiting global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
As we approach the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, in November 2021, it is important to reflect on the progress made since Paris and the challenges that remain.
Progress since Paris
Since the Paris Agreement, many countries have taken concrete steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy. Some notable examples include:
– The European Union set a target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and has already reduced emissions by 25% since 1990.
– China, the world’s largest emitter, pledged to peak its carbon emissions before 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060.
– The United States, which withdrew from the Paris Agreement under the previous administration, has rejoined and set a target of reducing emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.
These efforts are encouraging, but many countries are still falling short of the targets they set in Paris. Recent studies suggest that current policies would likely result in global warming of around 3°C, well above the Paris Agreement’s 2°C limit. More ambitious action is needed to close this gap.
Challenges for COP26
COP26 comes at a critical time, with only a decade left to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. Some of the key challenges that negotiators will face at the conference include:
– Securing more ambitious emissions reduction targets from all countries, especially major emitters.
– Addressing issues of climate finance, such as how to fund the transition to renewable energy in developing countries.
– Agreeing on rules for carbon markets, which can be a valuable tool for reducing emissions but require careful regulation.
The COVID-19 pandemic also presents a challenge to the conference, with travel restrictions and other safety measures potentially limiting participation.
What is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty signed in 2015 by 196 countries, aimed at limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. It also aims to increase the ability of countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
What are greenhouse gas emissions?
Greenhouse gas emissions are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, leading to warming of the planet. The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). These gases are released through human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agriculture.
What is net-zero emissions?
Net-zero emissions means that the amount of greenhouse gases emitted is balanced by the amount removed from the atmosphere. This can be achieved through a combination of reducing emissions and implementing measures such as reforestation and carbon capture and storage.
Why is climate change a problem?
Climate change is a problem because it has a wide range of negative impacts on the environment, economy, and society. These include more frequent and severe natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, food and water shortages, and health risks. Climate change also exacerbates existing inequalities, with vulnerable populations such as those living in poverty or in low-lying areas most at risk.