Written by Divija Vaish, a grade 11 student
One of the most well-known climate agreements is the Paris Climate Agreement. It is considered to be the first proper and legally binding global commitment to fighting the climate change crisis.
What does the agreement aim to do?
It’s an international treaty on climate change that aims to limited global warming.
In December 2015, 195 countries came together and signed an agreement to make efforts to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”.
To achieve this temperature goal, it was agreed that the participating countries would aim to cap the greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible – because these emissions are one of the biggest causes of global warming
What did the countries agree upon?
Under the agreement, each country sets its own emission reduction target, and the targets are reviewed every five tears to increase ambition. Rich countries are morally obligated to help poor countries to adapt to climate change. The agreement was implemented on 4 November 2016.
In 2017, people around the world, including Americans themselves, suffered a great shock when former US President, Donald Trump announced that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement. He said it was unfair to let countries like India and China continue to use fossil fuels while the US had to restrict its own usage. It officially withdrew on 4th November 2020- coincidentally, a day after Trump lost the election.
Fast Forward to 2021
Now, the new US administration has announced that they are set to rejoin the Agreement in roughly 30 days.
Joe Biden is the new US President and one of his primary focuses as President is tackling the climate change crisis that his predecessor more or less blew off. Since the US is, and almost always has been, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, its participation in the Agreement is imperative in the global commitment to facing the crisis.
As part of his climate policy, Biden has laid down several goals including:
- Setting the US on a track to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 which, as one would imagine, scientists say would significantly impact the 1.5C target.
- Re-establishing the US as a global leader in tackling climate change.
Biden has already shut down a pipeline that faced serious backlash which would have carried oil through some 1,200 miles from Canada to the US.
Called the Keystone XL pipeline project, this was something that environmentalists have been protesting against. It was meant to carry 830,000 barrels of heavy crude (raw and unprocessed) oil. The reason it was controversial was because the pipeline was meant to carry oil that is more expensive and energy-intensive to extract than other kinds of oil.
Biden’s victory in the elections was met with much optimism and hope by climate change activists and leaders in the fight against the crisis from around the world. His administration brings with them a real shot at undoing everything Trump’s administration did and actually fighting the increasingly pressing climate change crises.
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