On Saturday December 12th, nearly 200 countries signed an agreement in Paris committing themselves to cutting greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change! This is huge news. For the first time in 18 years, there is a new global accord on climate change. Canada, the United States, China and India are all on side. And this protocol, unlike the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, requires emission reductions from developing nations as well.
The Paris agreement includes a commitment to cap the rise in global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees C, while aiming to limit the increase below 1.5 degree C. This is incredibly important because climate scientists believe that anything above a 2 degree rise could be catastrophic from a climate perspective.
The Paris Agreement also commits developed nations, that are disproportionately responsible for climate change, to collectively give $100 billion per year to developing countries by 2020. This fund will be used to help developing countries to combat climate change and foster green economies.
Signatories to this agreement are required to develop their own greenhouse gas targets, publish them, and update them every 5 years. They are also expected to create a carbon-neutral world, where humans release no more greenhouse gases than nature can absorb, before the end of the century.
CAPE Board member, Dr. Courtney Howard, who was in Paris with the Global Climate & Health Alliance over the last two weeks, described this agreement as a real win for human health. “The Paris agreement signals a fundamental shift towards a low-carbon society and provides a framework for protecting health from the worst impacts of climate change” she explained.
For more information, see https://cape.ca/what-we-do/climate-change/.
Prepared by Kim Perrotta, Executive Director, CAPE, December 2015