Road to Paris 2015 Blog Series
Today I am launching a series of posts tracking international climate change negotiations. In December of this year there will be a major United Nations climate summit held in Paris, France, where international leaders will, once again, attempt to negotiate a binding agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Road to Paris” is the name of a strategic campaign initiated by business and government leaders in 2013, to promote solutions in preparation for the Paris Summit. “Road to Paris” is now a twitter hashtag (#RoadToParis), a Climate Reality Project campaign, a website hosted by the International Council for Science, and more (including this humble blog series).
2014 and 2015 have been particularly busy years for governments, businesses, and citizens concerned about climate change. Why is the 2015 Paris climate conference, a.k.a. COP 21, so important?— why is there so much buildup and drama preceding a United Nations December conference in Paris, the 21st UN Framework Convention on Climate Change?
The answer is simple: we are running out of time to slow down global warming. The general science-based consensus is that global warming is already having negative side effects–such as droughts, floods, devastating storms, and ocean warming. Once average global temperatures exceed pre-industrial levels by 2 degrees C, turning back will be extremely difficult as negative causes and effects will have gained momentum. World leaders generally agree that:
- Carbon emissions must be reduced to prevent warming from exceeding 1.5 to 2 degrees C above average pre-industrial temperatures; and that
- In order to prevent temperatures from continuing to rise, global emissions must be cut very deeply by 2050 and reduced to zero by 2100.
With such a short time frame, it is obvious that the time to act is now. Significant commitments and actions are needed to reduce carbon emissions and many people, organizations, and governments are hoping that a real, binding plan will be established at the Paris Climate Summit.
A Recent Event: Climate Summit of the Americas, July 2015
Leaders from North and South America have just come out of a summit held in Toronto, Canada called, “Climate Summit of the Americas”. It was a three-day event organized by the government of Ontario, which brought together provincial, state, and municipal leaders. The outcome was the first Pan American Action Statement on climate change. It was signed by representatives of the following 22 jurisdictions, according to a National Observer report:
CANADA: Provinces–Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, Newfoundland/Labrador, and Northwest Territories; Cities: Burlington, Hamilton, Kitchener, Whitby and Vancouver.
UNITED STATES: States–Vermont, Connecticut, California, Washington State, and Oregon.
MEXICO: States–Jalisco, Baja California, and Yucatan.
BRAZIL: State–Para; Cities– Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
In the Climate Action Statement, participants agreed to implement one or more of the following:
- Carbon pricing;
- Public reporting of emission levels;
- Action in transportation and energy sectors;
- Compliance with existing greenhouse gas reduction agreements.
Although commitments were loose, continental neighbors came together expressing a general consensus that deep emissions cuts must be achieved by mid-century. This was an important step. Cooperation at state, provincial, and city levels, will only increase possibilities of cooperation and action at national levels.
The purpose of my Road to Paris 2015 blog series is to inform myself and you, my readers, of events and issues leading up to to the UN Climate Summit in Paris this December. If there are related topics that you would like to read about, please let me know in the Comments. Now for a relaxing picture: