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The Paris Climate Change Conference

Still in the wake of a failed Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 which failed to implement any real solutions to the issue of climate change, hopes ran high for the Climate Conference in Paris held in December of 2015. The goal of the conference was pretty simple: pass a commitment signed by the 195 participating nations that would reduce the global temperature increase since the beginning of the Industrial Era to two degrees Celsius. It’s a short and sweet goal, but getting a commitment like this to be universally accepted among all participating nations would prove to be a large task. For this conference, everynation was given the same voting power, meaning that a small island country likePalau in Oceania’s vote counted as much as an industrial superpower’s vote, like the United States, Russia, or Germany. Each nation was also given the power to absolutely veto any commitment that it did not agree with, meaning that any one country failing to agree to sign the commitment would result in a failed conference.

Thankfully, however, countries did their best to put plans on the table that would benefit nations that are losing large percentages of their country’s land to rising ocean levels as well as nations as large and prosperous as Canada. In the end a deal was struck that aimed Dzto reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possibledz (UN Paris Climate Agreement 2015. art. 3, Section 1). This involves countries reporting their progress to be evaluated and establishing new goals every five years, encouraging transparency in the process and establishing the notion of Dzloss and damage,dz meaning that countries producing more greenhouse gasses must do more to reduce their emissions than countries producing a very low amount of greenhouse gasses.

Many people have called this conference a success because a deal was struck between so many nations that took real steps towards reducing carbon emissions on a global scale. Still however, others argue that the commitment is nothing more than a verbal agreement, and that failing to comply with any of the regulations and procedures put in place by the commitment would result in no penalty for the nation failing to cooperate. There is no system in place to punish countries who step out of line other than essentially pointing a finger at them, which many people see as a huge problem with the agreement. Additionally, some scientists have argued that the benchmarks set by the agreement are not strict enough to prevent the world from going over a two degree increase in temperatures. With time we will see how effective the measures set forth at this conference will be.

Nevertheless, the agreement reached in Paris of last year marks a huge step forward in the global attitude towards global warming, and that alone is something to be commended.