By Fredrica Syren:
If there is one thing world leaders from 195 countries gathering in Paris for the UN global warming talk agree on, it’s that global warming is the greatest threat that humanity faces and that we have to act now. The question I have is whether or not world leaders actually are listening, and are they ready to step up and lead the world towards stopping global warming?
This global warming talk could not be more timely, as on October 2015, the world experienced the warmest month on record by a huge margin, according to data released by NOAA’s . It, for sure, is a sign that global warming is accelerating. As a result, the world is experiencing more droughts, extreme weather, loss of crops and wild life, and rising sea levels due to glaciers melting. Another problem related to that of global warming is that people suffer adverse health consequences related to increasing temperatures. It’s estimated that global warming causes 300,000 deaths a year, according to former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan. In the past, mostly poor countries have experienced the effects of global warming, but now most of the world is feeling its full blown effects, so an agreement from all world leaders is a must.
This global warming talk is historic, the first since the Kyoto Protocol Treaty in 1997, when many of the world’s leaders adopted a legally binding agreement that mandated country-by-country reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2%. It went into force in 2005. The problem was that it took a long time to become an international law and, by that point, global warming had gotten worse because global emissions had risen substantially. The protocol worked for some countries and regions like the European Union, which was on track by 2011 to meet its Kyoto goals, while the two biggest emitters of all — the United States and China — fell short and churned out more than enough extra greenhouse gas to offset any progress other countries had made.
Of course, any treaty or protocol won’t work unless all world and business leaders make it a priority and follow it. World leaders must be at the center of international negotiations and policy processes, and they have to commit to fighting global warming by making drastic changes that include legally binding emissions targets, help for poorer countries, and a greater role for businesses to take responsibility as well. This global warming talk is on its way and and already are some of the world’s leaders like President Obama, facing resistance from legislators in their own country. Despite this and as frustrating that is, so far I feel hopeful. I feel that, since the Kyoto deal, UN scientists have established global warming as manmade, and a threat to the planet and all humans: leaders might very well be more motivated than they were in 1997.
To learn more about the UN global warming talk, go here: