One day ago, 175 nations from around the world came together at the UN in New York City and signed the Paris Agreement. Earth Day served as the perfect backdrop for the signing of an accord that vows to slow the rising of greenhouse gasses that lead to global warming.
Before the signing ceremony, the UN Messenger of Peace, Leonardo Dicaprio told the UN that The agreement is nowhere near enough to save the planet. He contended that it will not be enough “until fossil fuels are left in the ground” and left there. He went on to say, “An upheaval and a massive change is required now. One that leads to a collective consciousness. A new collective evolution of the human race, inspired by a sense of urgency from all of you.” Dicaprio makes me wish he was the President, to be perfectly honest. We need more people like him to show us the way.
The UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the attendees of the signing that “We are in a race against time…the Era of consumption without consequences is over.” He added that the poor must not suffer for the choices made by the rich. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the agreement while holding his granddaughter, one of 197 other young people that were present to witness the signing. Ki-moon went on to say that the “…young people are our future. Our covenant is with them…This day is for our children and our grandchildren and all generations to come.”
The Paris Agreement sets the commitment to slow the warming of the planet by 2 degrees Celsius (3.4 degrees F) by 2100 as compared to pre-industrial levels. To accomplish this, each nation will set a goal to achieve this, and update the plan each year. Fridays signing sets a record for the amount of countries to sign an agreement on the first available day.
Signing the accord is only one step in the process. The leaders must now go back to their home countries’ governments to ratify and approve the agreement, which could take months or years. The deal goes into effect once 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions formally join.
The two biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses, USA and China, both signed the Agreement.
Reactions to the signing were mixed, with some environmentalists praising it as the first definite step toward addressing the issue of climate change. However, others like Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, called the signing “nothing more than a parlor game…lacking consequence or purpose.” Of course, Duncan has room to be worried as head of a company whose wares will be fully phased out eventually as part of a cleaner, more renewable world of energy.
So to conclude, the Paris Agreement is off to a roaring start of being signed. However only one nation has submitted a plan to the UN as to how it will lessen it’s carbon footprint. This is where we need to see movement the most. Now that the lipservice in the form of signatures has been paid, it still remains to be seen as to how long it will take each country to ratify the Agreement and even longer until the magic number of 55% of the signing nations have ratified it. I expect and call on President Obama to act quickly in order to ratify the Agreement with an executive order and then to get to work immediately on a plan to submit to the UN, detailing exactly what will be done to limit the amount of climate change going on at the hands of America.
We are all part of this. Be aware of what you throw away. Be aware of how much you drive your car. Be aware of how much meat you eat. Be aware of how much water is wasted. Call your representatives and find out how you can contribute to do more for the environment. Go out and pick up trash. The animals and the Earth will appreciate you if you show your appreciation. Thank you.