COP21: Paris Climate Change Conference

COP21: Paris Climate Change Conference

Nov 27, 2015. | By: Adriana Sánchez and Ana Morales

For more than 20 years representatives from nearly 200 countries meet every December in different cities around the world in search of solutions to a common problem: global warming.

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, to be held from November 30th to December 11th, represents a crucial meeting due to it should lead to a new international agreement on climate change applicable worldwide. The main goal: to keep global warming below 2°C. See infographic

Now we will address some key issues of this conference and its main topic, climate change.

What is climate change?

It’s called climate change to global weather change on Earth. It is due to natural causes and human activity, it is produced to very different time scales and to wide range of climatic parameters: temperature, precipitation, cloudiness, etc. The “greenhouse effect” refers to the retention of the sun’s heat in the Earth’s atmosphere by a blanket of gases.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2014 reached 397.7 parts per million (ppm), before the Industrial Revolution was 278 ppm.

Five scientific evidence of the existence of climate change

Sea level rise

he global sea level has risen 17 centimeters in the twentieth century. The sea level rise in the last decade is almost double of last century.

Global temperature Increased

Most of this warming has occurred since 1970, with the warmest 20 years since 1981 and the ten warmest in the last 12 years. Although the minimum is observed between 2007 and 2009, temperatures on Earth continue to increase.

Glaciers and Arctic ice decline

The extent and thickness of Arctic ice and glaciers such as the Andes,Alaska … have declined rapidly in recent decades.

Extreme weather events

The number of events of extreme heat in the US They have increased, while extreme cold events have decreased since 1950.

Acidification and ocean warming

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of ocean surface waters has increased by 30 %. It is the result of the absorption of atmospheric CO2 increased by human emissions which in turn show a temperature increase of 17 ºC since 1969.

What are the consequences of climate change?

The potential impact is enormous, with predictions of lack of drinking water, major changes in the conditions for food production and an increase in mortality rates due to floods, storms, droughts and heat waves. It is not an only environmental but profound economic and social consequences phenomenon.The poorest countries, least equipped to face rapid change,will suffer the worst consequences.

If we continue with the pace of emissions without taking action, the global average temperature will rise between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees by 2100.

Can it be reversed ?

Yes, it is definitely possible if we lower our emissions of carbon dioxide using renewable energies. Investments in this type of energy are outperforming non-renewable, that indicates a process that is taking shape, the time to reverse the impact will depend on joint efforts.

What is COP21 Paris? What is discussed in Paris?

The aim of the COP21 is to keep warming below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. The future agreement should be responsible for mitigation, that is the effort made ​​to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This conference should lead to the adoption of a universal agreement that lays the groundwork for a transition to low-carbon societies and able to cope with the different manifestations of climate change economies.

Another measure is the adaptation, which is to mobilize 100,000 million annually for the most vulnerable countries in order to prepare for climate change.

Will Paris protocol binding?

The EU is committed to a binding protocol sections. However, the administration of EEUU could have problems, as happened with Kyoto, for Congress and the Senate to ratify a legally binding protocol. The EU has already given up the addition of penalties,considering it an element which may deter some countries when signing the agreement.

Are enough efforts presented ?

According to the 2015 Index of low carbon economy by PwC - UK, to analyze the commitments, there are three emerging economies that stand out and are on track to meet their carbon budget, these are Mexico, Korea and South Africa. But other countries like Brazil and Russia have extremely poor commitments. The rest has relatively modest ambitions in relation to what could be done to accelerate the decarbonization of their economies.

Is there any agreement ? What if there isn’t ?

To carry out this agreement must be binding, in the sense that commitments are kept and respected. This time, apart from the signs of climate change have increased, it seems to have a greater involvement of the major powers.

If it does not close, or closes a not too ambitious pact does not mean that the fight against climate change is stopped. But definitely without a global agreement, it will be more difficult to guide international cooperation on climate change.