The Significance of the Paris Agreement in Climate Change Policy

by Katy Schaefer

One of the most hotly contested subjects in America over the past ten years has been the issue of climate change. Is it real, how will it affect the citizens of America and the world, what can we do to lessen if not reverse the impacts of global warming? Until recently, it seemed like we might never reach an answer. You might recall the infamous, failed meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 which was called to address a possible worldwide plan to attack this issue. However, this year, there is better news.

On November 30, 2016, representatives from 200 countries gathered in the Le Bourget airport, right outside of Paris, for a new set of negotiations. After a week and a half of intense debate and discussion, an agreement was reached without objection. So what exactly did these nations agree to? There are a few key points that the Paris Agreement will set into action. Firstly, The deal states that any country that implements it, must strive to keep international temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100, with the best case scenario being no more than 1.5°C (2.7°F). Secondly, the deal is promoting an approach that looks to the future. Countries are being encouraged to spend trillions of dollars to better adjust to the world as the climate shifts. For example, wind and solar power development, sea walls, and programs helping the nations deal with bad soil are being pushed.             Lastly, “developed” countries are instructed to donate $100 billion to less developed nations beginning in 2020, although that number is expected to increase with time.

Although the agreement itself is impressive, the implication it has for the future of climate change prevention is also significant. In 2009, the United States didn’t even sign the agreement. This year, “the US, China, and India also played a key role in facilitating the agreement” (Justin Worland, This signifies not only a willingness to work together on an issue that will impact the world, but also that each country is accepting individual responsibility for the outcome. It also signals that “global capital and sustainability are merging. And this bodes extremely well for the future of achieving a low-carbon global economy” (Michael S. Ashford, Although the agreement is reason to celebrate in itself, only time will tell what long term impact it will have on the international environment and economy.


Historic Paris Agreement marks a shift towards positive, responsible climate change. #climatechange #hope #responsibility

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