Following the failed negotiations of the 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, a new attempt has been made by governments from 195 countries to negotiate a new global climate change agreement. This time, the governments say that they are more optimistic in making real progress to switch to renewable sources of energy and make the transition towards a low carbon economy. Although there are hopeful signs that countries around the world (especially developed ones) are determined to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are still many unclarities. Nigel Arnell from the University of Reading said:
“The agreement includes a commitment to update pledges and make them more progressive, but the text is vague on the overall ambition: it does not specify a date for the peaking of emissions, and specifies only that reductions should lead towards “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality” in the “second half of the century”.
Not are there only unclarities surrounding the Paris climate pact, but the question if the agreement will be legally binding is also not yet clear. The only thing that is being said is the following:
“The agreement will be considered a “treaty” under international law. However, governments have yet to agree on precisely which elements will be legally binding, an issue that will affect whether and how the United States and other key countries become parties. The agreement will likely include binding procedural commitments – such as requirements that parties inscribe and maintain nationally determined contributions, and report on progress in implementing them. But some countries, including the United States, oppose a legally binding requirement that parties “implement” or “achieve” their nationally determined contributions. The agreement is unlikely to include such a provision.”
What this means, in broad terms, is that if countries do not pursuit their pledges of reducing carbon emissions, they are not taken to the international court. If the climate change agreement remains a non-binding agreement, then it could mean that countries may not follow up their promises and the goals that have been negotiated will not be achieved. Moreover, if a global financial crisis hits the world again, then the developed countries may not mobilize $100 billion a year in public and private finance for developing countries from 2020 onwards. Although there are still a few disputes regarding this agreement, it is not yet binding. So if this part of the climate change agreement remains non-binding, then the developing countries may not receive the financial and technological support they so desperately need to keep their emissions under control.
Another strange observation is that shipping and aviation are exempted from the climate change agreement. The Co2 emissions from these two sectors combined account for more than 4% of global man-made GHG emissions. (Sources: International Chamber of Shipping 2014; Air Transport Action Group, www.atag.org, April 2014)
Although governments from 195 countries are more optimistic, hopeful and determined to make the transition towards a low-carbon economy, there are still many ambiguities that have to be dealt with. If parts of the global climate change agreement remain unclear and there is no clear agreement of whether there should be a penalty for not implementing or achieving national determined contributions, then the main goal of keeping global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius may not be achieved.
In the following part of this topic, I will introduce a whole new possibility and approach of how communities, organisations, businesses and whole nations can limit and/or reduce GHG emissions by working in a unique multidisciplinary way.