paris agreement

Is the world meeting the Paris Agreement?

It has been 5 years since countries from around the world gathered together to talk about climate change. 197 countries signed on, and 187 countries have ratified it. Unfortunately, right now six countries meet the minimum target of 2C, and only two of them meets the target for 1.5C.

The countries that meet the 1.5C pledge so far are Gambia and Morocco. Countries that are meeting the 2C goal include Costa Rica, Kenya, Ethiopia, India, Bhutan, and the Philippines. Everyone else is hitting targets that range from heating the earth by 3C to 4C or more.

This is very concerning, especially considering that only one of these countries were a significant source of greenhouse gases to begin with. India, the most significant emiter on the list, is responsible for just 6.62% of co2 according to 2017 data. This compared to China, who is also in the Paris Agreement, which is responsible for 29.34% of co2 emissions.

Most countries are enabling fossil fuels

Almost all countries are failing to meet their Paris Agreement goals, but it’s possible that they will still succeed. Low results now might be due to long term energy projects that aren’t running yet, or time needed for businesses to adjust. If that were the case, we might see lowered emissions, but we would see evidence of their efforts.

Unfortunately, this is also not the case. Canada is in the middle of constructing a major gas pipeline—which suggest they have no plans for curbing emissions in the near future. China claims it will meet its target, but at the same time is building over 200 coal fired energy plants across 24 different countries.

Even Norway, typically known for its pristine environment, chose fossil fuels over the environment while struggling with Covid-19.

While there is some good news, such as the UK’s long coal free streak, it appears that most of the world is planning business as usual for fossil fuels.

What we can do

The novel coronavirus has upended our lives, and is certainly making it harder for countries to clean up their acts. Germany and Britain are both calling for a green recovery, and suggest using future stimulus to support green technology.

The Global Renewables Outlook states that while a normal recovery will cost an estimated $95 trillion, a green recovery would cost $110 trillion but offer huge dividends. The green recovery would save $50 trillion and $142 trillion by 2050.

We can also work as individuals, cities, states, and provinces to work on small scale progress. While the USA is set to formally withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Honolulu went in the opposite direction. They enacted laws aligning themselves with the Paris Agreement in 2016 on an individual basis. According to their own website, last updated January 2020, they are on track to meet that target.

In order to stop climate change, we need to do what ever we can on every level. This means tiny individual changes, to global movement. Together, we can turn this ship around and sail towards a brighter future.

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