Two weeks ago representatives from 196 countries arrived in Paris to resolve one of the world’s most pressing problems — Climate change. On Saturday, December 12th, the group emerged victorious with the first ever globalaccord in the fight against global warming — One that U.S. President Obama hailed as the “turning point for the world” and the “best chance to save the one planet we’ve got.”
The agreement’s overriding goal is to ensure that average global temperatures increase by no more than 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. This according to environmentalists is a critical threshold above which the planet could experience irreversible impacts — Catastrophes like greater sea level rises and widespread plant and animalextinction.
To ensure this does not happen all 196 nations have agreed to decrease the use of fossil fuels that generate heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions like methane and carbon dioxide as soon as possible. The agreement alsostipulates that by 2050, man-made emissions should be reduced to levels that can be absorbed by our forests and oceans.
The pact does not bind countries to a specific carbon emission level. Instead, it allows each nation to establish a comfortable reduction target and outline a strategy of how they plan to get there. Government officials are also urged to review the plan every four years to ensure they are meeting their goals and find ways to decrease emission rates further if possible.