20 years ago, scientists were already calling for rapid emission cuts, with the warning that the longer we waited, the faster we would have to cut the emissions. Well, we waited and waited, and, last year, the world was issued only 12 years to avert the climate change and the global warming crisis. But what does the Paris Agreement have to do with it?
What is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement, also known as the Paris Climate Accord and the Paris Climate Agreement, is a pact by the U.N to bring countries together to fight against global warming and climate change. It was signed on December 12, 2015, in Paris, France. The countries that are signatories to this arrangement agree to limit the century's global average temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Scientists agree that if we pass this 2 degrees Celsius threshold, the effects will be catastrophic and irreversible. These effects include oceans rising, excessive flooding, extensive droughts, heat waves, and more extreme weather conditions. These effects are a threat to our health, food security, and even the economy.
All U.N member states but 2 - Nicaragua and Syria - signed the agreement at the time. It is important to note that Nicaragua didn't sign because to them, the deal was too soft on rich countries that emit the most greenhouse gases thus contributing the most towards global warming. Nicaragua also felt that a voluntary deal wouldn't accomplish much. Syria wasn't able to sign because it was, and still is, embroiled in war. In 2017, Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would be pulling out of the deal.
Why the Paris Agreement is important to Africa
The top 10 largest emitters in the world are developed countries and they account for 67.6% of the world total greenhouse gas emissions. And, even though developing countries contribute the least to climate change and global warming, they will be the ones to suffer the most devastating consequences of it. This is why the Paris Agreement is important to Africa. Even though it is non-binding, the Paris Agreement is the first agreement to bring the countries of the world together to fight against global warming and climate change.
Under the agreement, every country has an individual plan to tackle its greenhouse emissions. Developed countries also pledge an amount of money to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries adapt and mitigate practices to fight global warming and climate change. Should the member countries in the Paris Agreement take their role seriously, the effects of climate change and global warming could be averted.
However, due to climate inaction, the stakes remain higher than ever. The threshold was lowered to 1.5 degrees Celsius from 2 degrees Celsius, and it is estimated that we have already caused about 1 degree Celcius of warming, therefore only 0.5 degrees Celsius remains. The clock is ticking.
Header image credit - AfDB.com