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  • Writer's pictureStudents for Global Health UCL

The Paris Agreement

Current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions run out in 2020. So what next? Well just last week, governments of more than 190 nations gathered to discuss the new global agreement on climate change: the Paris Agreement. What will this new agreement do and how will it impact us?

The paris agreement is the first climate change agreement to require all nations, both rich and poor, to pledge action on climate change. The aim? To reduce global warming to less than 2 degrees celcius compared to pre-industrial levels. On our current path, we are heading for an increase in global temperature of around 5 degrees celcius. While this might not sound like a significant increase, the difference in temperature between now and the last ice age is in fact also 5 degrees - clearly this seemingly small change can indeed make a massive difference!

So what have countries committed themselves to? Well 195 countries agreed to the global pact to reduce global warming to below 2 degrees C which has been described as a ‘historic turning point’ by the french Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Whilst the agreement will be legally binding, each country will set their own targets for emissions reduction. Every 2 years, developed countries will be required to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and their progress. As well as this, developed countries will have to give $100bn to help developing nations in their quest to decarbonise their energy sources. Nevertheless for the agreement to become binding, 55 parties who produce 55% of the worlds greenhouse gases need to ratify the agreement.  

There is no doubt the commitments are bold, but with global temperatures rising at the rate they currently are, if we do not take drastic action on a global scale, global warming will become not only catastrophic but irreversible.

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