The Global Road to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord Agreements

By: Lainey Benson

The discussion of climate change and the immense criticality in which it holds for our planet’s overall health has only recently been taken into serious account by the international audience. Although not the first of its kind, the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference was hosted in the city of Lima, Peru, where the world witnessed a collective engagement with this pivotal topic. Countries attending the conference agreed upon bringing forward their individual plans for increasing transparency regarding their carbon emissions, however, not many major achievements were concluded upon. On a positive note, the Lima conference did prove to many that for the first time in history, a multitude of nations were willing to unite and prove efficient self-regulation as well as a sense of responsibility for our environment’s global vitality.

Following the convention in Lima, New York Climate Week 2014 greatly energized the public about the relevance climate change holds for the current state of our global society. The week event hosted roughly 125 heads of state, representing a political acknowledgment for climate leadership. Generating a record amount of publicity with thousands of impassioned citizens taking the streets demanding more critical action, New York Climate Week 2014 genuinely increased greater attention towards environmental protection and active participation in the issue. A year later in 2015, the world met again in the city of love, Paris to further address climate issues that were not concluded upon the year prior in Lima. For many, the Paris Climate Accord agreements restored some hope to the global community regarding significant strides towards a healthier planet.

In short, international governments agreed upon pursuing efforts to keep global temperatures below 1.5C, pledge to curb carbon emissions further, set longer term goals concerning net zero emissions, as well as establish a 5-year stock time frame for the participating countries in which they will “stocktake” every five years as to avoid further warming. Although these agreements were never defined as legally binding, many highly polluting countries, such as India and China, have exceeded their expectations in reaching the set goals. For the first time in history the global audience witnessed a resolve of sorts, more so than what was seen in Lima.

The majority of Americans believe climate change is real and something to be taken into serious political consideration, however not many were aware of the happenings two years ago in Paris. Now, the United States government is soon expected to make a formalized statement whether to opt out of the Conference’s pre-established accords or to simply remain committed. As the international community continues to look at the United States as a country prideful in leadership and power, the decision to be made is one of remarkable significance for our world’s extraordinary biodiversity and environmental well-being.

It is our duty, as global citizens, to overcome the struggle against climate change. A healthful planet is an essential human right as it allows for healthful prospering and wholesome living. In regards to climate change and environmental protection, the world can’t wait!

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