Have we changed the world with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change?

Feature Image: Data Visualization of GHG Emissions.

Photo from CAIT Climate Data Explorer (2)

The Paris agreement in 2015 succeeded in getting over 196 countries to sign off on taking action to bring greenhouse-gas emissions down to net zero and limit the average global temperature increase to a maximum of two degrees Celsius within the next few decades (1). Now is a great time to look back on what has actually changed since.

According to the World’s Data Visualization of GHG Emissions diagram above, China is responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s total emissions; larger than the United States and the European Union combined. Together, the top ten emitters account for nearly three-quarters of all global emissions and half of them are still developing countries. Greenhouse gas emissions are caused by various sources of fossil fuels, such as gas, oil, and coal, which are the biggest contributors. Fossil fuels still play a major role in today’s energy supplies, especially as they remain the primary source of energy in a growing world economy due to the cheap cost of generating and transporting. It is no surprise that countries with large populations and rapid industrial growth, such as China, Indonesia and India, are in the top ten list of highest emitters.

Let’s think of a world where all organizations, regardless of where they are based, have achieved true sustainability through green to reach the goal of a “sustainability world”. In an ideal world, countries would support each other and share the latest renewable technologies to push each other forward.  If we are to ever reach such a world, rich countries need to provide more monetary help for the less developed countries, so they can be able to have the new renewable technologies. This would be a perfect scenario for the future of the world, but is it realistic? Would developed countries be willing to spend a large amount of money and effort to help the less developed ones?

One year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, national climate policies have made little progress, and the road ahead looks even less clear after the results of the US Presidential elections.” (3). Rocha et al.’s (3) worries on the commitment of all parties’ part of the Paris agreement manifested when newly elected president Donald Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the treaty, citing economic reasons as the drive behind his decision. As the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in according to the World’s Data Visualization of GHG Emissions, this decision will have major consequences in terms of building a sustainable world without fossil fuels. This act has also shown how much of an impact a country like the United States has on the rest of a world as their actions affect the lives of many global citizens.

It requires a lot of work to change the mindset of people in this energy transition process. To our mind, controlling the climate, protecting the earth, and living in a sustainable way is a great story we have been telling ourselves. If climate change really worries everyone, especially the politicians who signed the Paris agreement, and takes the first place in our goal of the future, then why are we investing so much money in drilling oil and starting wars? Even if we just look at the household consumption of energy. We still depend heavily on those fossil fuels to heat our homes, run our vehicles, to power the manufacturing industry, and provide us with electricity. Sooner or later, when the effects of climate change continue to grow more critical and the resources of fossil fuels reduce, we will have to decline our dependence on fossil fuels. Until that day has come, the cost and difficulty of shifting to new renewable energy source still remains an issue for everyone to deal with.

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