Top 3 Reasons To Be Optimistic About the Climate Talks in Paris
The countries of the world will meet in Paris in November to agree upon a globally binding treaty on tackling climate change. Or at least, that’s the idea. The Conference of Parties, or COP, as these meetings are officially called, has in the past tried, but failed.
However, things are looking a little more optimistic for this COP, COP21. Here’s why:
A) Major Polluters are Already Pledging Pollution Cuts
The two biggest emitters, China and the United States, have already announced voluntary targets to carbon emissions reduction. The US recently unveiled its Clean Power Plan – which aims to reduce thermal power plant carbon emissions by 32% over 2005 levels by 2030. China has committed to peaking its carbon emissions by the same year. The European Union is also promising at least a 40% reduction in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2030.
The point of these announcements/voluntary targets is that, for the first time, the COP has tangible targets to work with, well before the meeting actually commences. This gives all the parties ample time to understand and/or criticize the targets, and thereby develop their own responses and (hopefully) their own legally binding targets to tackle climate change.
While the global average temperature has risen by 0.8°C in the last decade, it may (just, just!) still be possible that the rise be contained to within 2°C. To do that, however, leading climatologists say that the world will have to become carbon neutral by 2050. Environmental pollution would also have to peak by 2020 and then start declining.
Is that really possible? I hope. But only if there is enough policy thrust behind widespread adoption of clean energy resources. Thankfully, the world’s leading economies – including India, China, USA and the EU – are already making a concerted effort to boost the share of renewables in their energy mix. And for climate laggards such as Australia and Canada, before long, the simple economics of renewable energy resources over thermal power generation will force them to move away from a carbon heavy energy matrix.
C) Millions of People are Demanding Concrete Action
People across the world are calling on large and small businesses to divest from fossil fuel stocks and invest in renewable energy resources. The action translates into a symbolic as well as financial blow to coal, gas and oil. They are also urging their governments to clear the path for renewable energy through proactive policy measures and financial incentives.
Clean air has also become a contentious issue across several countries, and especially in China and India. Linked to unsustainable economic growth and a dependence on fossil fuels, people are demanding that strong action be taken to promote the use of private electric vehicles and public transport. And what gives us hope is that the momentum for such movements has never been greater.
Therefore it’s possible that this year’s climate summit in Paris will lead to a globally binding treaty on emissions reduction.
To read more about why there is optimism about COP21, click here.