On Monday, over 150 heads of state and government were gathering in Paris for the UN climate change conference. This event marks the largest group of international leaders ever to attend a UN event.
What transpires in Paris over the next 2 weeks will have a major effect on the future of our planet. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. This has most scientists speculating that continuing on our current path will result in rapid and devastating warming of our planet. This doesn’t just mean bad news for animals and our polar ice caps. A continued warming could mean the risk of dependable food and water supplies being disrupted. It also means that dangerous pathogens have the potential to spread to new areas and a rising of the seas could reshape the geography as we know it.
Throughout the day, the speeches resonated similar messages from country to country as they offered leadership and support to come to agreement on climate change policy. The goal is to finalize this plan by December 11, so to set in motion a global path to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future that keeps the average global temperature change below two degrees Celsius.
WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE?
The goal of Paris is to produce a short, simple agreement that will cover almost 200 diverse nations. The key elements needed to create an effective plan going forward would entail countries agreement to come back every few years to increase their pledges. There would also be a need for a designated system of accountability and transparency to make ensure nations keep their promises. Finally there must be a commitment of support to help the poorest nations adopt new, low-carbon energy technologies.
A STRONG START
On the opening day of the COP21, (UN Conference on Climate Change), 40 governments as well as hundreds of businesses and influential international organizations called for a call to action designed to speed up the plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The global mandate, known as “The Communiqué” calls on the international community to increase efforts to phase out subsidies to fossil fuels by providing policy transparency and greater support for the poorest nations.
WHAT ARE FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES
Globally, governments are currently spending more than $500 billion of resources annually to keep domestic prices for fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal artificially low. It has been estimated that more than 1/3rd of global carbon emissions, between 1980 and 2010, were derived from fossil fuel subsidies. By eliminating these subsidies, it is estimated that this would reduce greenhouse gas emission by 10% by 2050. It would also open up resource options to improve other areas of needs like education and healthcare. This would also promote exploration of other energy sources, mainly renewable or clean energy.
(Image courtesy of Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform)
Scientists believe that by any further delay in acting on a global scale will only make changes harder and more expensive in the future. If continued reliance on fossil fuels does not change, it is predicted that places like New York City would have the climate of Miami and melting ice would flood major cities around the world. Poor countries would be devastated by a changing world, as they have the fewer resources to adapt.
Whatever the end results are from this climate summit, it is destined to have an impact on the way the world produces and uses energy.
SVP – N.A.E.A.
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