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The Importance of the International Community at COP21

The Earth is 4.54 billion years old. In the approximate 200,000 years that humans have evolved we have destroyed more than 50% of the world’s forests. The Earth’s climate has been deteriorating due to increased greenhouse gases resulting from human activities such as industrial air pollution and land use. This exploitation of the Earth’s resources has left humanity with a very serious issue. There are multiple alarming impacts expected if effective measures are not taken towards sustaining the Earth’s resources. The grave outcomes include a higher rate of drought and flood from the increase in circulation of water, higher sea levels from the Earth gradually increasing heat, which will lead to the displacement of tens of millions of people due to natural-disaster, lack of resources and the disappearance of liveable human conditions.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), established in 1992 is an international treaty negotiated by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The UNFCCC is aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. However there is no legitimate method of enforcement that ensures all parties adhere to the protocols. As a pressing global issue, international communities have recognized climate change, yet the operation of their negotiations have failed to proceed in a manner matching the urgency of the issue. In addition states that have not respected these negotiations have yet to experience any consequences. There are solely processes constantly being established rather than actual sustainable development goals and preventative climate change measure being put into effect. Sustainable development is intended to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. As it stands, regardless of the efforts of the UNFCCC among other organizations, there must be a stronger hold on the international community, so we can continue living on our Earth without the global experience of its destruction. In 2007, the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, had committed at the UN to leave oil deposits under fields if the international community would contribute ½ of the oil revenue the country would have obtained. This was an initiative to sustain natural resources however in 2013 it was abandoned for negotiations could not be made within the international community. It is imperative that 1/3 of oil reserves remain unused by 2050, otherwise the effects of climate change will continue to worsen as will our standard of living. The constant warnings from environmentalists will soon become the reality if we cannot sustain our resources underground.

Recent efforts to reach a global agreement for climate change include the NY Climate Summit, the Green Climate Fund and the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, among others. These compose the global efforts towards attaining goals set by the international community against climate change. Regardless of the goals that have been discussed it is the upcoming 2015 Paris Conference that is of dire importance. This is the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC that negotiates global action against climate change and global warming. In 2014 the COP20 met in Lima, Peru where they established a legal mandate that is required for their emission reduction pledge. The global agreement reached in Peru is significant for it has fostered the foundation for the 2015 Paris Conference (COP21). In 2020, an agreement with the ambition to act on climate change will come into effect thus it is critical at the COP21 that an agreement is signed. From November to December, representatives of 196 nations will assemble for the purpose of effectuating a notable impact.

It must be considered to why the COP21 is worthy of public attention. From the increased loss of our Earth’s biodiversity and the ozone layers depleting we risk our food security and higher rates of ultraviolet rays from the sun, respectively. This is not a sustainable way of life in any way. From the nations that will be present at COP21, a cumulative impact can be reached. If there is no pressure placed onto the international community, negotiations will be considered a failure like previous attempts. Although the Kyoto Protocol was successful on the basis that countries committed to stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions consequent processes have yet to generate similar results. The UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009 failed to agree to on new targets and no commitments were made to reduce emissions. Nothing was accomplished to prevent climate change in the future. The UN Commission on sustainable development has failed to bring about an outcome for sustainable consumption and production.

This matter deserves pressure and attention from the public because as previously explored, there is no strict implication on nations if they do not abide by protocols concerning climate change. An urge towards leaders who will be negotiating at the upcoming Paris Conference must forge an agreement successfully. If new measures are not taken to help poor nations adapt to the consequences of climate change and new policies adopted to decrease emissions and leave resources underground, COP21 will not be considered a triumphant. It is urgent that we, as an international community, contribute to effective negotiations otherwise our Earth will continue to deteriorate. Following the COP20, the Paris Conference sets the stage for how we either continue to abuse our planet or sustain ourselves.

Image License: Some rights reserved by Ron Mader

About Gabriela Navarrete

Gabriela Navarrete is presently completing her undergraduate studies in Political Science at Concordia University. Her focal interests consist of Latin American politics and the United Nations. She enjoys focusing on current events and policies. Additionally, Gabriela loves learning about wine and exploring different culinary dishes.

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