I had a quite unusual reminder on my phone this morning. It says “The Paris agreement enters into force!”. Having a phone reminder for this sort of thing is a bit silly or even funny to some, but I’m just so happy that there is finally a binding climate deal!
Entering into force simply means that enough countries have now officially joined the agreement.73 countries and the European Union have joined the Agreement. They have not only signed it but also taken national measures in for example the parliament, to decide how they will reduce their emissions. Regular meetings will now be held under the Paris framework, making sure that the world leaders keep discussing this urgent issue.
The next meeting will start in just 3 days in Marrakesh, Morocco. The meetings are extremely important but the irony of the increased flight traffic to get to thos meetings is a bit sad. I hope virtual reality improvement will mean these meetings can be held without everyone flying somewhere. Here you can see a map on how the Paris Agreement is adopted in different countries, it’s lovely to see that the majority has joined! If you want to read details, here is the United Nations report on the agreement.
Now the real work begins. Now we’re comitted to the targets, now we need to work out how to reach them. It will be tough but if there continues to be enough political will on every level, it will be done. The Paris agreement target of keeping warming below 1,5 degrees is very unlikely to be met. There should be even more clear structures and rules in the agreement even to met the 2 degrees target. For example, flight emissions aren’t mentioned in the agreement at all which is quite a big problem. But it’s a great step in the right direction!
Every single person over 18 years in a democratic country has their fair share of responsibility for trying to get as close to the Paris Agreement target as possible. The most important thing you can do though is to use your political power, making sure this stays an urgent topic at all times. The municipal elections are coming up in Finland next spring, vote for a candidate who takes climate change seriously! The Mayor elections in London that were held last spring while I lived there, showed that Londoners want something to be done about air-pollution. Sadiq Khan, who was elected, seems very ambitious when it comed to reducing London’s pollution levels. Helsinki has much fewer inhabitants and therefore no air quality crisis but we could definitely do our part of emission reductions too.
The goal of the agreement: keeping global warming below 1,5 degrees, doesn’t really translate into emission reductions countries have comitted to. The existing commitments will lead to an estimated warming of about 2,7 degrees. This is a bit problematic. There is also a commitment to reaching zero net emissions sometime between 2050 and 2100.
2100 is quite far away. I’ll be dead or 106 years old. I will still experience climate change during my life, having emissions goals for 2100 is to wait too long with reductions. The temperature is likely to have risen with up to 2 degrees already by 2050. I’ll be 64 by then and all my holiday destinations will have been destroyed when I finally retired! The Paris agreement is just a bit too little too late, to quote the famous JoJo hit from 2009. So I’m cheering myself up by listening to that silly pop-music and hoping for a more ambiotious agreement soon!
In the agreement, there is also some kind of comittment to financially help developed countries to adapt to climate change. In the long run, it would be cheaper to just phase out fossil fuels in the next 10 years instead of hundreds of years of adaptive measures.
Even if the Paris agreement isn’t as ambitious as to phase out most fossil fuels in the next 10 years you can do your part: use trains instead of flying, use cycles or electric cars and pay a bit extra for renewable energy to your home. And to say it once more, make sure vote in a way that supports the goal of the Paris Agreement!
The Paris climate agreement is entering into force. Now comes the hard part.