Beyond this diplomatic success, are the commitments from these countries sufficient? Are they realistic and sustainable? What will occur after this climate conference? Is a new way of life needed?
Despite some positive facts…
The number of representatives attending the conference was historic. The record 197 countries came to an agreement, a shared goal, and one statement: rich countries have to do more than poor countries to reduce greenhouse gas! Even if how these measures are to be funded has not yet been determined, these positive facts seem to be an initial answer to the global warming issue.
This issue is crucial: world temperature increase would lead to the extinction of a lot of species, as has happened before, although it would be much slower and would take place over a longer period of time (not enough for flora and fauna to adapt).
It’s important to know that 14 out of the 15 hottest years over the last 138 years were recorded in the 21st century. The increased global temperature will lead to ever more powerful climatic disasters (typhoons, floods, aridity) and a rising level of the oceans due to the melting of icecaps and glaciers.
As a consequence, in many countries of the world, more and more people will be migrating towards safer areas (this phenomenon will be particularly true in Bangladesh where millions of inhabitants live in low-altitude areas).
… the commitments are not sufficient to reach the shared goal
Even if national goals will be updated and enhanced every 5 years, the current increase in greenhouse gas emissions from all countries will lead to a world temperature increase of 3°C, far away from the agreed upon 1.5°C. Furthermore, these national goals are non-binding, and based on voluntary contributions. There is neither a mechanism to constrain a country to set a target nor are there enforcement measures if a set target is not met.
In addition, these emissions cannot be easily monitored and some remaining questions show how mechanisms of emission measures still have to be defined, for example, how to factor in the emissions due to the import of products from abroad in the national contribution.
Is another way of life needed?
Beyond the positive and negative aspects of the agreement adopted during the COP21 in Paris, the most credible way to limit the global warming and its consequences seems to be to adopt a new way of life and a change in the economic system, especially in highly industrialized countries, which are responsible for the main part of greenhouse gas emissions.
Replacing fossil fuels in electricity production or transport sectors with renewable energies (such as sunlight, wind, geothermal heat, water for hydroelectricity) could be a first step.
To produce food locally, to use public transport or a bicycle when the car is not mandatory, and to reduce the distance between work, office and home are some steps. Reducing our energy consumption is a better way to fight global warming than thinking up a hypothetical technology that will be able to reduce carbon dioxide.
Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si, has criticized and pointed out consumerism and irresponsible development as factors responsible for environmental degradation and global warming. He calls on all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action.” As in international meetings and agreements, we, as citizens, are similarly called to do our part by preserving the world and humankind.