The Paris Agreement – Was It Ever Feasible?

Only six days ago (6th of December) a disturbing research article was published, and it has caught the media’s attention. It has turned the most pessimistic hopes towards climate change into what might be a frightening reality. News articles have drawn conclusions based on the research from this article: “Worst-Case warming predictions are the most accurate”. The article is called the “Greater future global warming inferred from Earths recent energy budget”, written by Dr Ken Caldeira and Dr Patrick Brown. It is revealed that if business follows as usual, there is a 93% chance that global warming will exceed 4°C by the end of this century, thus questioning the capability of the Paris agreement.

The article has based its research around measuring the ΔT (change in radiating temperature) through nine global predictor fields. “our results indicate that observations of several diverse attributes of Earth’s global energy budget indicate both individually and collectively that global warming is likely to be greater than that suggested by the unconstrained model suite” (Brown et al, 2017). This raises the question, how did we allow it to get to this point, despite governmental actions such as the Paris agreement? Well firstly, with president Trump threatening to abandon the agreement, it removes a key player and super power to reach this goal. It was argued prior the agreement that the goals set were not ambitious enough, however without the USA in the picture, these unambitious goals already seem unreachable. Secondly, there has not been enough support towards developing countries. By cutting off their carbon emissions, it greatly disrupts the growth potential. Support and resources are therefore needed elsewhere, and should be provided by countries in resource surplus. Furthermore, one must explore what can be done outside of governmental/organisational level, but also on an individual level. I am self-proclaimed environmental caring: I recycle, I turn the lights off after I have left a room, and do what I have been told a  good citizen does to minimise emissions. Despite my everyday effort, I calculated my carbon footprint. If every single human lived the way I do today, we would need 3,34 earths to sustain my lifestyle. I am now fully aware of the toll I am taking on earth as an individual, I consistently write blogs about environmental impacts and sustainability, yet I still over-consume, why do I not change my ways?

It seems like every week there is a new article published that underlines how doomed we are to failure. What will it truly take to inspire true and visual change? Do we need more videos of polar bears starving to death? Perhaps we need more celebrities to emphasise the stress we are causing on the planet and Eco systems. How about on a governmental level? The fact that Syria finally joined the Paris agreement, despite being war-torn, might pressure President Trump to revoke his threats. In addition to US cities and companies still declaring to be part of the agreement despite President Trump. Either way, whatever the solutions might be, it must be implemented immediately, as the fate of humanities’ well being is truly racing against time.

Tor-Elesh Albrigtsen

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