August 19, 2016

Will the Deals Agreed at COP21 Really Work?

The much awaited Climate Change Conference (COP21) had  concluded. Will the outcome of the deliberations there, meet the expectations of the environmentalists and the eco-conscious people around the world? That remains to be seen only after at least five years, as the deals signed on 11th December 2015, the last day of the conference, would come into force, only in 2020.
I’m not being pessimistic, but I wonder if we have that much time to wait, given the situations we are facing today. Personally, I’m of the opinion that we are out of time and cannot afford to wait that long. Although we may be compelled to wait because it was supposed to be the consensus of the conference, definitely the climate will not wait. It would continue to deteriorate as it had been doing all along. The effects of the climate change is getting worse year after year without any relent or sign of improving. So, just imagine what could happen in the five years before the deals come into force. As I’m just a layman, I cannot understand why a wait of five years is necessary, when the issue is a very pressing one and the consequences of which could be worse than any war we had ever endured.
According to the media reports, I noticed that the most significant agreements reached are as follows:—
1.     To stop carbon emission altogether;
2.     To limit the temperature rise at below 2°C and eventually bring it down to 1•5°C;
3.     To cut down on the use of fossilized fuels and eventually end the fossil fuel age;
4.     To grant US$ 100 billion a year, starting from the year 2020, to the developing countries to fight the climate change;
5.     To review the progress every five years.
From the look of it, the goals set are very ambitious, or, rather too ambitious. However, I wonder if they are binding enough, as some leaders, who participated are claiming. Some observers are saying that they are not binding enough, to which I agree, as they failed to introduce the sanctioning, as a tool to bring the countries that do not abide by the decisions of the conference, in line. What use will those agreements and decisions be, if there is no provision to enforce them. There are other agreements, but the above mentioned are the most important for us, so I would like to make a quick run-through analysis.
The first goal is stopping the carbon emission altogether. As far as I understand, their objective is to strike a balance between the carbon sources and the carbon sinks, to create  a carbon-free enviroment. The carbon source is the emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the carbon sink absorbs the CO2 gases and retains them for a long period. Carbon sinks are created, primarily by growing more trees, as trees sequester the CO2 gases and reduce its presence in the atmosphere.
Will it be possible without a really binding force, which most experts believed the present deals lacked, to achieve that goal? Without a sanctioning power vested to some concerned organizations, how would they be able to make a country that does not abide by the rules, to listen. I’m certain that some countries will not abide accordingly, judging from the fact that the Copenhagen Conference held in 2009 failed, as some countries are reluctant to sign it, because they didn’t agree to accept the emission targets. As it lacked a strong binding, it wouldn’t be easy to impose the emission targets this time around, too. Unless all the nations of the world act as one and strive towards a common goal of eradicating the carbon, it is bound to fail.
As for the limiting of the temperature rise, some experts are of the opinion that the present rise is above 2°C already, a fact, which the participants of the COP21 seemed to ignore. According to the news about the agreement reached, I am of the opinion that they seem to be taking for granted that the temperature rise haven’t exceeded the 2°C ceiling, judging from the wordings used in their agreements. Their target to bring it down to 1•5°C is quite laudable, however, the dateline set to accomplish that goal is very unrealistic. It was set at 2100.
Should I say that is surprising or absurd or ridiculous, given the fact that the temperature rise and the climate change is the most pressing issue that cannot afford to wait that long. I believe no one could really know precisely what would become, even in the five years’ wait before the deals come into force, let alone in another eighty five years, that is in 2100. I presume that the deals are in favour of the large emitters of CO2, by allowing them to continue emitting CO2 with only slight reductions that wouldn’t affect their industries and their economies.
It would also be difficult to do away with the fossilized fuel use altogether, so if a drastic reduction  could be achieved, it would benefit the humanity very much. To discourage the use of such fuels, their productions must be restricted. Limited supplies would raise their prices to great extents that could make the industrialists turn to renewable energies.
I applaud the idea of granting funds to developing nations to fight the climate change, because it agrees with what I had suggested in one of my previous articles. However, strict controls should be in place to protect against misappropriations. Regular inspections should be carried out by un-corrupt officials so that the funds are used effectively. Today it is an undeniable fact that some international officials, who had to oversee the projects around the world, are misappropriating the funds by using high-end model motor vehicles and staying in lavish five star hotels or residences while on assignments.
The provision to review the progress every five years is a very good idea, only if they are carried out without any bias or prejudice. Apart from this view I have no other comments or remarks to make, concerning this agreement.
I would like to quote some observers’ opinions and outlooks on the agreements or the deals reached at the COP21. The first one I would like to quote is that of  Nick Dearden, the director of the campaign group Global Justice Now. He said “ It’s courageous that the deal on the table is being spun as a success when it undermines the rights of the world’s most vulnerable communities and has almost nothing binding to ensure a safe and liable climate for future generations”. Another person I would like to quote is Nick Mabey, chief executive of climate diplomacy organization E3G. He said the agreement was an ambitious one that would require serious political commitment to deliver.
Some observers say that the attempt to impose emission targets on countries was the main reason why the Copenhagen talks in 2009 failed. At that time, nations including China, India and South Africa were unwilling to sign up to a condition that they feel could hamper economic growth and development.
There was also an assessment that was published during the two week talks that suggested, the emission reduction targets submitted by the countries as required by the latest agreements would only limit the global temperature rise by 2•7°C.
The agreements also aimed to put an end to the fossil fuel age, which I think is too ambitious and not realistic at all.
In conclusion, I would like to say that nothing significant would be achieved by the agreements reached at the Paris Climate Change Conference. My view is based on the fact that the agreements are not binding enough and also taking into consideration, the above remarks and assessments by experts, that it would only limit the temperature rise by 2•7°C. It is way off the target they had aimed, which was below 2° and to bring it down to 1•5°C by the year 2100. In my opinion the conference made many concessions to please every nation attending the conference to get their consensus and get the deal endorsed unanimously. I am not alone who thought so. There were some critics who said, many changes to the draft deals were made to break the impasse during the deliberations to get the consensus. Well, we’ll have to wait and see how many nations would comply by the agreements as to the letter.


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