5 questions about our climate

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COP21: Rallies call for Paris climate change action

Will the negotiations in Paris lead to an international climate agreement? The question seems not to be whether the negotiations lead to an agreement but what bottom line, the results of the agreement will be.

Five questions about the climate issues.

Question 1: How can we reduce emissions?

Climate change is caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuels. Those greenhouse gases (especially CO2) are the most important measure that needs to be addressed. Reducing greenhouse gasses is possible by reducing CO2 emissions and more storage, for example through reforestation. This is phrased as mitigation.

Objective of Paris is the increase of limiting the average temperature in the year 2100 to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

All currently registered plans are summed not enough to achieve the two-degree limit. The EU wants 40 % reduction in emissions by 2030 comparing 1990. The plans will result in three degrees. The plans will reduce emissions to 11 gigatonnes in 2030. That will leave a gap of 12 to 14 gigatons.

We need more and the longer we wait, the more painful the surgery will be.

Question 2: How do we adapt?

The second big issue in addition to the global reduction of greenhouse gases, the issue of climate change adaptation. In other words: how we fit the world into the already inevitable consequences of climate change? This is about action needed for sea level rising, extreme weather, droughts, floods and food insecurity.

Developing countries will need to be assisted with human capacity and money.

Adaptation is mainly a problem for developing countries. These countries will need help to reinforce their coasts, funding for reforestation and help to switch to a circular agriculture. Funding is needed for empowering people and cash.

Question 3: Who will pay?

In Paris this issueThis is the biggest stumbling block in Paris. Of course, climate change is caused mainly by the rich developed countries. Most of the consequences are seen in developing countries. Therefore they want the rich countries to pay for the solutions, in particular for adaptation.

From 2020, rich countries have pledged that they will stabbing $ 100 billion a year in a climate fund of the UN. Will this amount be enough? Thats one of the discussions in Paris. An additional problem is that there are a number of emerging countries like China, that are still occurring as developing countries. They will also have to pay their share.

Another point of contention is financial knowledge and technology transfer. This is mainly about whether the rich developed countries and their companies will share technological innovations being made in the field of clean energy and sustainability. Will they share these technologies for free?

The last stumbling block is something known as ‘loss and damage’. Who needs to pay for already existing climate damage, such as coral atolls being evacuated due to rising sea levels? That’s a tough question, because the rich countries are wary of anything resembling liability.

Question 4: How do we measure?

The agreement will make the world circular and it will decarbonize the global economy, resulting in carbon neutrality. It is crucial that countries agree on the voluntary agreements. There should be a non-voluntary “pledge and review” process, in which progress is reviewed every five years. A so-called monitoring and verification process, done by the United Nations (UNFCCC).

The idea is that these agreements could be tightened. The Paris agreement will not achieve the two degree target, should further appointments to 2050 will.

Question 5: Is a deal possible and how important is it?

Insiders say, the stars look favorable to a climate agreement in Paris. Unlike six years ago in Copenhagen, all the key players want an agreement. This will be a rough and messy compromise. The crucial question is mainly whether the deal will be ambitious enough to keep the world in the wake of the two-degree limit.

Paris might fail, but the goals are not lost, optimists say.

The business community is already doing for years, with some decent results.More and more companies are preparing for a tax on CO2. Precursor like Unilever aspire even to carbon neutrality. Large and small investors are increasingly opting for the boycott of fossil energy.

Local authorities, especially cities (by 2030, more than 60% if the world’s population will live in cities), do have their own sustainable energy policy. And civil initiatives such as Urgenda, will win the climate case against the Dutch government in court!


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