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The UN Climate Conference: are we doing enough?

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The UN Climate Conference, known as COP21, began earlier this week in Paris, with the assembly of world leaders and governments alike endeavouring to craft a long term deal to limit carbon emissions.

Described as a turning point in the fight against climate change, the Paris deal is essential for a resilient future, with the effects of global warming already being felt on a wide scale. This is following the weaker outline of a global agreement that was reached at the UN summit in Copenhagen back in 2009, whereby the ultimate goal was loosely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But is this a last ditch attempt to salvage to planet from the changes in climate that has already been “locked in” from our preceding carbon footprint? We know that a global temperature rise of over 2 degrees is the scientifically agreed gateway to dangerous global warming but are we already too little, too late? After all, the Industrial Revolution increased the emission of carbon dioxide by 30 per cent, and 9 out of 10 of the hottest years on record have occurred since the millennium.

Whilst there is definitely more that is required in order to ensure a much more sustainable model, we are making waves in tackling the issue of climate change. In the EU alone, there is a renewable energy directive in place with a binding target of 20 per cent energy consumption from clean sources by 2020, with all countries committing to reaching their own national targets and some already even hitting theirs.

The treaty is a step in the right direction, but as it stands there is no agreement as to what happens after 2020. A deal from the Climate Summit is the next crucial step in reducing the effects of global warming, and with that comes many issues; ultimately we need to create a way of changing public opinion on climate change. Two thirds of people in the UK are concerned about the effects of global warming, but there is still a public opinion that it doesn’t even exist.

Additionally, money is also a factor, especially with regards to the developing world. As discussed in the first day of discussions at the UN Climate Conference, India, as the world’s third largest emitter, remain unsupported with regards to the renewable sources they need to prolong environmental changes. In an attempt to industrialise, they have become heavily reliant on fossil fuels, which, in turn impacts the environment significantly through the emission of greenhouse gases.

We must strategically begin to adapt; as it stands, the people that are contributing the least towards global warming are the ones that are suffering the most. Investment in a new infrastructure in order to account for changes in population and demographics is essential, from transportation, to employing renewable technologies and cooperation mechanisms.

Hopefully a milestone in the fight against climate change, the UN Climate Conference will take place until the 11th December.

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