ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement has set targets for limiting temperature rise due to global warming which will be virtually impossible (1.5°C) or very difficult (well below 2°C) to realise. It ignores the fact that these targets require a strict limit on global cumulative emissions in the future. Allowing all countries, especially developed ones, to do what they feel able to, rather than what is necessary, sets the world on a dangerous and inequitable path to the future.

The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held at Paris between 30 November and 12 December 2015, culminated in a spirit of bonhomie and mutual congratulation that has rarely been witnessed at climate summits over the past several years. Subsequently, the Paris Agreement, the final outcome of the conference, has been hailed by world leaders, without exception, as a critical step forward taken by all nations in facing the challenge of global warming. This would certainly appear to be welcome news for a world made weary by constant reports of the lack of progress in an annual succession of climate summits. But the logical question that follows is how the seemingly insurmountable divisions that existed earlier were overcome and what has been done with respect to the main issue: the need to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases sufficiently rapidly to ensure that the physical security of human society itself is not threatened.

Unfortunately, a closer examination of the outcomes of COP21 at Paris provides no reassurance that global climate negotiations have come any closer to grappling with the crux of the problem. On the other hand, the world appears to have been set on a course that brings the dangers of global warming closer than before, even while setting the stage for an even more acrimonious and contentious round of global climate negotiations. Perhaps the most dismaying feature of the Paris Agreement is that it has set a global target for climate action that is close to being virtually impossible to meet. Setting such targets carries with it the considerable danger of freezing the world into inaction as the realisation of the inevitability of missing the target sets in. However, if the climate goal that has been set is to be achieved, then it will be at the cost of the bulk of the nations and populations of the Third World, whose future economic options, particularly in terms of energy, will be sharply curtailed for the medium- and long-term future.

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top