By Sabine Tessono
Over the past few decades, awareness about environmental issues has increased. The phrases “climate change” and “global warming” have been thrown around in political and social arenas around the world, but without much explanation or a conclusive solution to the threats to Earth’s ecosystem. On December 12, 2015, however, 195 representatives from their respective countries met, and sat down to discuss how to “adopt green energy sources, cut down on climate change emissions, and limit the rise of global temperatures”, all while attempting to mitigate the damage already done to the Earth’s surroundings. This assembly ultimately created a united global front and brought almost every single nation together to work against effects of climate change. This pact was ultimately dubbed the “Paris Climate Accord”, and still remains one of the most influential and highly discussed environmental agendas of our time. While the Accord may be a step in the right direction to figure out a plausible way to solve climate issues, the issue of its actual power still remains. How does this agreement affect the modern world today? What does this deal mean for the future of climate change?
To consider these questions, we must look back and see where what made the Paris Climate Accord so successful in the first place in comparison to other attempts at climate control. One such example occurred in 2009, where the United States, along with five other nations, gathered together to make a similar climate deal later called “The Copenhagen Accord.” The goal of this meeting was to “emphasize [a] strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.” While this may have been a good starting point on the discussion of global climate, it ultimately failed in creating a united front due to leaders not contributing concrete ideas “that might have induced other countries to step up their own offers,” and due to nations having clashing ideas that prevented further discussion.
It’s evident that the Paris Climate Accords was able to accomplish what the Copenhagen Accord did not. In 2009, while the effects of the planet’s temperature increase were present to both scientists and rulers of the free world, other countries’ political and social issues took precedence over global warming. Having said that, in the years after the Copenhagen agreement, the damage that climate change has caused on both a national and international scale has prompted world leaders to put aside their differences and take action, providing the passion needed to make the Paris deal succeed. One such example lies with two nations who took part of the Paris accords in 2015: The United States and China, the two biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. Previously both nations had disagreements, and often strained relations over the issue of climate change, which played a factor in the breakdown of previous efforts. However, due to the efforts of President Obama and President Xi Jinping to cut down domestic use of fossil fuels, and negotiators on both sides working to move forward with climate control, the US and China united together to create a crucial success in the deal.
Ultimately, the Paris Accords greatest success lies in striking a balance of cooperation and accountability for all parties involved. By setting up a relationship between countries that requires them to participate, no matter how rich or how poor they are, the agreement gives agency to nations who have been left out of the conversation of climate change and enables them to work within their communities and alongside larger world powers. Such a large unification among the majority of world leaders truly enacts shifts on both a national and global scale, while giving a general feeling that the damage of global warming can be healed.
Perhaps the most important idea from this deal is hope. We, and the nations who support this Accord, can’t be entirely sure that rallying behind these ideas will bring colossal change in the future, but with the spread of this agreement, and influential rulers presenting a united effort, it will ultimately inspire individuals to look at the issue and take action.