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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Climate change conference finally promising

Leaders and diplomats from around the world are meeting in Paris for the 2015 U.N. Conference on Climate Change from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said 183 countries have submitted proposals of intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These 183 countries account for approximately 95 percent of global emissions, making this year’s conference the most promising of its kind in terms of its probability of success.

Some skepticism remains about the degree of significance any resulting outcomes will make in the larger picture of climate change, however.

It has been widely agreed by environmental scientists around the world that preventing the absolute worst consequences of climate change would only be a reality if the temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius from the pre-Industrial Revolution era, according to Independent news.

Unfortunately, the proposals submitted by the 183 countries forecast a 2.7-3.5 degree rise in temperature, at best, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite the dilemma regarding the two-degree threshold, there still remains hope for this conference.

For one, this will be the first occasion China has joined the other countries in pledging to meet reduced emission goals. With one of the largest populations residing in this country, as well as being one of the most industrialized, the effects of China’s cooperation could add a significant difference to the overall amount of reduced emissions.

Another reason this conference has higher chances of success is because of its timeliness. This conference will be commencing at the end of what is predicted to be the hottest year in recorded history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Presumably, the urgency that the issue of climate change poses to these gathering leaders should force them to compromise on the allowance each country is granted for the remaining global emissions budget.

This conference is also discussing the legality of agreements between the countries in a smarter way compared to previous, ineffective years. Some of the goals set by the U.S. with other countries will be legally binding and others will not, according to the Los Angeles Times.

This will better serve the achievement of the conference’s objectives because if our government was to support protocols advocated by some of the European nations, which encourages only legally-binding agreements, they would have to be approved by the U.S. Senate, and its approval during this time is not probable.

Without approval from the U.S. Senate, all the time that was spent even coming to an accord will have been in vain because any plans of action would be obstructed. The combination of both legally binding and non-legally binding accords should lead to faster and more lucrative outcomes for the planet’s future health.

Certain powerful gas and oil industries, such as Exxon Mobil, are also losing more and more influence over the public, which makes them unable to continue to promote misleading information about their contributions to climate change.

Because of this widening gap between the fossil fuel industry and the public, companies such as Exxon Mobil might be pressured into rethinking their ecological responsibilities.

On the other hand, engineers, scientists and technologists have been working to make a healthier planet more affordable; they have made it possible for the price of a solar panel to drop 80 percent in the last six years, according to Los Angeles Times.

While the plans discussed at the climate conference only predict holding off the temperature rise to 2.7-3.5 degrees Celsius, it is still an improvement from the six-degree rise the planet will be headed toward by the end of the century if no action is taken, according to Independent news.

Even the smallest preventative measures are encouraged at this point, and whatever progress we can take right now will be better than none at all.

The time has already come and passed for leaders to be able to put off the crisis of climate change to a future agenda.

Action must be taken immediately and this conference provides one of the best opportunities to finally come to compromises that will lead to global progress.

Follow Jessica Suriano on Twitter.

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