Moos’ Blog

Bio­di­ver­sity Counts!
Obser­va­tions and opin­ions con­cern­ing zoos, evo­lu­tion, nature con­ser­va­tion and the way we treat/​support the ecosys­tems which are sup­posed to serve us.


Did we save our­selves from cli­mate change at Paris?

pub­lished 13 Decem­ber 2015 | mod­i­fied 12 Novem­ber 2017

Earth has been around for about 4.6 bil­lion years, and it expe­ri­enced many changes dur­ing that period of time. Its his­tory, includ­ing the devel­op­ment of ecosys­tems, can be unrav­elled by look­ing at life’s rem­nants in its rock lay­ers. Geol­o­gists have marked each period with a mean­ing­ful title, such as Cam­brian, Juras­sic, Holocene and Pleistocene.

Today, sci­en­tists argue that we have started a new and even more his­toric period in the Earth’s story: the Anthro­pocene. For the first time in the planet’s his­tory, one species is its pri­mary designer — humans. And this species has a very destruc­tive behav­iour. We are destroy­ing our own species’ future. We are on the verge of the point-​of-​no-​return. Unless.…

Can we stop the process depicted in the ani­ma­tion above?

Well, yes­ter­day, after sev­eral ear­lier attempts which failed mis­er­ably the World’s 195 lead­ers reached an his­toric agree­ment on cli­mate change at the COP21 in Paris. An agree­ment by the way that — due to its last minute effort — shows that humans as a species lack a con­sid­er­able amount of respon­si­bil­ity towards future gen­er­a­tions. Already in 1972 the Club of Rome said there was a limit to growth, and that pre­cau­tion­ary action would suit us. Nobody lis­tened or acted accord­ingly. Despite increas­ing evi­dence pil­ing up show­ing that our lifestyle would in the end make it impos­si­ble for Planet Earth to sup­port our con­tin­ued exis­tence, it took us nearly 55 years! to agree on seri­ous measures.

Some high­lights of the 12 Decem­ber 2015 UN press release read:

An his­toric agree­ment to com­bat cli­mate change and unleash actions and invest­ment towards a low car­bon, resilient and sus­tain­able future was agreed by 195 nations in Paris today.

The Paris Agree­ment for the first time brings all nations into a com­mon cause based on their his­toric, cur­rent and future responsibilities.

The uni­ver­sal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global tem­per­a­ture rise this cen­tury well below 2 degrees Cel­sius and to drive efforts to limit the tem­per­a­ture increase even fur­ther to 1.5 degrees Cel­sius above pre-​industrial lev­els. The 1.5 degree Cel­sius limit being a sig­nif­i­cantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a chang­ing climate.

To reach these ambi­tious and impor­tant goals, appro­pri­ate finan­cial flows will be put in place, thus mak­ing stronger action by devel­op­ing coun­tries and the most vul­ner­a­ble pos­si­ble, in line with their own national objectives.

The Paris Agree­ment and the out­comes of the UN cli­mate con­fer­ence (COP21) cover all the cru­cial areas iden­ti­fied as essen­tial for a land­mark conclusion:

  • Mit­i­ga­tion — reduc­ing emis­sions fast enough to achieve the tem­per­a­ture goal

  • A trans­parency sys­tem and global stock-​take — account­ing for cli­mate action

  • Adap­ta­tion — strength­en­ing abil­ity of coun­tries to deal with cli­mate impacts

  • Loss and dam­age — strength­en­ing abil­ity to recover from cli­mate impacts

  • Sup­port — includ­ing finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures

The new agree­ment also estab­lishes the prin­ci­ple that future national plans will be no less ambi­tious than exist­ing ones, while cli­mate action will also be taken for­ward in the period before 2020, includ­ing ratch­et­ing up cli­mate finance to USD 100 bil­lion by 2020.

Coun­tries will sub­mit updated cli­mate plans — called nation­ally deter­mined con­tri­bu­tions (NDCs) — every five years, thereby steadily increas­ing their ambi­tion in the long-​term.

The agree­ment com­prises a robust trans­parency and account­ing sys­tem, which will pro­vide clar­ity on coun­tries’ imple­men­ta­tion efforts, with flex­i­bil­ity for coun­tries’ dif­fer­ing capabilities.

Prob­a­bly the most impor­tant deci­sion of the agree­ment is that it is legally bind­ing, but the agree­ment will only enter into force after 55 coun­tries that account for at least 55% of global emis­sions have deposited their instru­ments of rat­i­fi­ca­tion. When will this be achieved, and how will the coun­tries be held accountable?!

(Source: Smith­son­ian Mag­a­zine, Sci­ence and Nature, 09.12.2015; UN Cli­mate Change Sec­re­tariat press release, 12.12.2015)

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