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Paris, Five Years On: Who’s taking Action?

Morgan Franklin's picture
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 Morgan Franklin is a freelance writer, editor and designer who works across various sectors and largely online. His work covers everything from business and politics to the environment, ethics...

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“The Paris Climate Agreement is a joke,” writes Sasja Beslik. “And I should know - I was there when it was drafted.”  One of the hundreds of politicians involved in the 2015 summit, Beslik (writing for Medium last year) argues those involved in the agreement didn’t go far enough; while the countries who opted out ought to be held accountable.

 

The stereotype of politician’s broken promises is common amongst a disilluisioned electorate - but never more so than with Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist emerging from the commotion with an unambiguous call to action. At the LA Climate Change summit in 2019, the tone was not dissimilar, with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres asking that countries “...don’t come with a speech. Come with a plan”. 

 

The climate change tracker provides an overview for the proactivity of countries, with an overwhelming majority showing as “insufficient”. According to the World Meterological Organisation,  2015-2019 was “set to be the warmest five-year period on record” - with a global average temperature increase of 1.1degrees-celcius. 

 

Even without the hard data, evidence has been borne out in the form of natural disasters such as flooding and wildfires. By December of last year, carbon emissions had reached a record high  -and are predicted to continue rising.

 

Another of Beslik's criticisms was that Paris agreement members were too optimistic. “False hope” he says, is “perhaps the most sinister aspect of the Paris Agreement” - suggesting that politicians and industry leaders treated the agreement as a one-and-done solution to climate change - where really, it was just the beginning.

 

Hope alone cannot assuage the effects of climate change - however instrumental it is in the broader sense. Amongst the countries taking action are Costa Rica, where the remarkable feat of reversing deforestation has begun, blueprint for reducing carbon emissions was released in February 2019. 

 

Meanwhile, India has implemented pro-solar policies, while Norway’s cleaned up it’s transoirtation systems. In the UK, greenhouse emissions have fallen by over 40% to levels not seen since the turn of the 20th Century. 

 

Echoing the “Deeds not words” mantra of the 1900s suffragettes, The message to politicians is to drop the spin, the empty promises and the premature celebrations in favour of taking real, urgent action on climate change.  It’s a message echoed by Greta Thunberg’s plea to the House of Parliament in April 2019 - not to reduce carbon emissions, but to eliminate them altogether. 

 

Without the cooperation of other countries, progress remains patchy in a time of genuine crisis, particularly where financial gain and big business take precedence over environmental responsibility. Trump’s accordance with his “America First” policy seemed to rely on the assumption that the US was exempt from the effects of climate change - but 2019 reports from  NOAA detailing extreme weather and climate-related damage tell another story. 


Currently the only two countries not to have ratifed the agreement are Iran and Turkey, who share over 1% of global emissions, while in the US  proper withdrawal is not possible until the 2020 presidential election - but mere agreement isn’t enough. it’s imperative that countries who have the wealth and resources step up to help those who - financially, ecologically - cannot afford climate change.

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