Why is climate change such a popular topic this month?
For the next two weeks, world leaders are meeting at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. Their mission: to reach a legally binding agreement to reduce international climate impacts. Unlike prior treaties, the COP21’s agreement could hold each nation accountable for reaching its promised carbon goal.
This agreement would aim to keep temperatures below the 2°C threshold to avoid the worst effects of climate change. However, many of the world’s most vulnerable nations think even more extreme measures won’t be enough.
“We all know, and must acknowledge, that the targets on the table now are not enough to limit warming to below 1.5 degrees, although they are a start in the right direction,” said President Loeak of the Marshall Islands. “If we’re to win the battle against climate change, the fossil fuel era must draw to a close, to be replaced by a clean, green energy future, free of the carbon pollution that is harming our health, stunting our growth, and suffocating our planet.”
The Marshall Islands sit less than six feet above sea level, which means that sea level rise could render them uninhabitable by the end of the century. So, for President Loeak, the stakes at COP21 are nothing less than the existence of his country. In that context, his go-for-broke call to end fossil fuel use seems more an act of desperation than one of extremism.
However, international action may come too late. “My country is in its hour of need,” said President Loeak. The Paris agreement “must assure countries as vulnerable as mine that the world’s helping hand will be there when climate change, unfortunately and unavoidably, unleashes its devastating impacts.” Continue reading “The King, the Mice and the Cheese” Problems in Climate Change