Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol and International Actions
Among other requirements, countries must report their greenhouse gas inventories and progress relative to their targets, allowing outside experts to evaluate their success. Countries are also expected to revisit their pledges by and put forward new targets every five years, with the goal of further driving down emissions. These transparency and accountability provisions are similar to those in the frameworks of other international agreements.
The Copenhagen pact also created the Green Climate Fund to help mobilize transformational finance using targeted public dollars. While developed nations are not legally bound to contribute a specific amount to the mitigation and adaptation efforts of developing countries, they are encouraged to provide financial support and are required to report on the financing they supply or will mobilize.
Rarely is there consensus among nearly all nations on a single topic. It also created a clear framework for all countries to make emissions reduction commitments and strengthen those actions over time. Here are some key reasons why the agreement is so important:. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC , the leading international scientific body studying the subject, the concentration of these heat-trapping gases has increased substantially since preindustrial times to levels not seen in at least , years.
Carbon dioxide the chief contributor to climate change is up by 40 percent, nitrous oxide by 20 percent, and methane by a whopping percent since —mainly from the burning of dirty fossil fuels. Meanwhile, deforestation and forest degradation have contributed their fair share of global carbon emissions as well. Hotter temperatures—both on land and at sea— alter global weather patterns and change how and where precipitation falls. Those shifting patterns exacerbate dangerous and deadly drought, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and storms, including hurricanes. They also melt ice caps, glaciers, and layers of permafrost , which can lead to rising sea levels and coastal erosion.
Warmer temperatures impact whole ecosystems as well, throwing migration patterns and life cycles out of whack.
For example, an early spring can induce trees and plants to flower before bees and other pollinators have emerged. While global warming may equate to longer growing seasons and higher food production in some regions, areas already coping with water scarcity are expected to become drier , creating the potential for drought, failed crops, or wildfires.
As climate change fuels temperature increases and extreme weather events, it jeopardizes our air, water, and food; spreads disease; and imperils our homes and safety. We are confronting a growing public health crisis. The countries hardest hit by the impact of climate change will be low-lying nations uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise and developing countries that lack the resources to adapt to temperature and precipitation changes.
But wealthy nations such as the United States are increasingly vulnerable as well. To avoid major changes to life as we know it, global action must be taken.
Hence, the Paris Agreement, which sets the ultimate goal of capping global warming rise this century to 1. Indeed, the seemingly small difference between 1. That was among a number of unfounded claims Trump repeated in his Rose Garden address, arguing that the accord would cost the U. But as fact checkers noted, these statistics originated from a debunked March study that exaggerated the future costs of emissions reductions, underestimated advances in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies, and outright ignored the huge health and economic costs of climate change itself.
In fact, research makes clear that the cost of climate inaction far outweighs the cost of reducing carbon pollution. In terms of employment, the clean energy sector already employs more than 3 million Americans —about 14 times the number of coal, gas, oil, and other fossil fuel industry workers—and has the potential to employ many more with further investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric grid modernization to replace the aging coal-powered infrastructure.
Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol, Bali “Action Plan,” and International Actions
Indeed, moving forward with the Clean Power Plan alone could deliver more than a half-million new jobs by Finally, rather than giving China and India a pass to pollute, as Trump claims , the pact represents the first time those two major developing economies have agreed to concrete and ambitious climate commitments. Both countries, which are already poised to lead the world in renewable energy, have made significant progress to meet their Paris goals.
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And since Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the accord, the leaders of China and India have reaffirmed their commitment and continued to implement domestic measures toward achieving their targets. The Paris Agreement is the culmination of decades of international efforts to combat climate change. Here is a brief history. In , President George H.
The pact sets no limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms, but instead establishes a framework for international negotiations of future agreements, or protocols, to set binding emissions targets. Participating countries meet annually at a Conference of the Parties COP to assess their progress and continue talks on how to best tackle climate change.
The Kyoto Protocol , a landmark environmental treaty that was adopted in at the COP3 in Japan, represents the first time nations agreed to legally mandated, country-specific emissions reduction targets. Bush argued that the deal would hurt the U. That year, at the COP18 in Doha, Qatar , delegates agreed to extend the accord until without some developed nations that had dropped out.
They also reaffirmed their pledge from the COP17 in Durban, South Africa, to create a new, comprehensive climate treaty by that would require all big emitters not included in the Kyoto Protocol—such as China, India, and the United States—to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The new treaty—what would become the Paris Agreement—was to fully replace the Kyoto Protocol by However, the Paris accord went into effect earlier than expected, in November While the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement both set out to address climate change, there are some key differences between them.
Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which established legally binding emissions reduction targets as well as penalties for noncompliance for developed nations only, the Paris Agreement requires that all countries—rich, poor, developed, and developing—do their part and slash greenhouse gas emissions. To that end, greater flexibility is built into the Paris Agreement: No language is included on the commitments countries should make, nations can voluntarily set their emissions targets NDCs , and countries incur no penalties for falling short of their proposed targets.
What the Paris Agreement does require, however, is the monitoring, reporting, and reassessing of individual and collective country targets over time in an effort to move the world closer to the broader objectives of the deal. The aftermath of a wildfire near Santiam Pass in Oregon. While the Paris Agreement ultimately aims to cap global temperature rise at 1. Indeed, the targets countries laid out are expected to limit future temperature rise to between 2. Meanwhile, current evaluations of how countries are performing in the context of their Paris climate goals indicate some nations are already falling short of their commitments.
The heavy lifting—reining in emissions even further by and —still needs to be done, and the accord provides the tools to ensure that happens.
In fact, the mobilization of support for climate action across the country and the world provides hope that the Paris Agreement marked a turning point in the fight against climate change. We can all contribute to the cause by seeking opportunities to slash global warming contributions—at the individual , local , and national levels. The effort will be well worth the reward of a safer, cleaner world for future generations.
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Here it is: We can determine the impact of climate change by the political, economic, and social choices we make today. NRDC is working to help make the Global Climate Action Summit a success by inspiring more ambitious commitments to the historic agreement and enhanced pollution-slashing initiatives. The administration cites the likelihood of catastrophic global temperature rise to justify gutting fuel-efficiency standards.
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