After the vote that took place early October in Strasbourg, the path is clear for the Paris Climate Agreement to become effective: A large majority of the 610 European delegates voted in favor of the agreement that had been negotiated one year ago in Paris, 39 delegates voted against it and 31 decided to abstain from voting.
In order for the agreement to become effective, two conditions had to be met:
The first one being that states with a total amount of at least 55 percent of worldwide carbon emission had to ratify the agreement. The second one requiring overall at least 55 states to agree. Since more than 55 states had already agreed to the contract, the European vote was mainly important to cross the 55 percent carbon emission threshold.
The European Union is responsible for 12 percent of worldwide carbon emission, ranking third behind China with 25 and the US with 15 percent. The consent of those major industrial states marks a historical moment, since the climate agreement legally binds them to the contract’s terms. However, failure to comply with their respective commitments will not lead to legal actions against the countries.
The Paris Climate Agreement is the successor to the Kyoto Protocol from 1997 and will become effective in the year 2020, meaning that by this point all the climate protection measurements have to be implemented. The ultimate goal of the agreement is to limit global warming to less than 2° Celsius as well as international carbon emissions being equal to the amount that can simultaneously be absorbed, achieving so called carbon neutrality.
To reach this goal, usage of fossil resources such as coal, oil and gas has to be stopped between 2050 and 2070. Therefore, more emphasis will be put on renewable energy and reforestation. Since emerging and developing countries will not be able to implement those goals without financial support, €90 billion financial aid will be provided by industrial countries every year from 2020 to 2025.
European delegate and member of the German conservative party CDU, Karl-Heinz Florenz commented on the entry into force of the agreement by stating that this is a clear signal towards the economy: “Sustainable investments are the key for future-oriented, successful industrial policy. We have a responsibility to our children that requires us to change the way we treat our planet.”
Despite this positive picture, it is important to mention that some European countries expressed concern about the compliance of the agreement.
Poland for example, a country that heavily relies on sourcing its energy from coal power plants, will face high financial expenses.
Regardless, the World Climate Agreement is an important component in the global structure for a sustainable future and should be connected with the “Sustainable Development Goals” of the Agenda 2030. The agreement will operate as a catalyst for national efforts to stop global warming while also being an international connection between countries working towards a common goal.
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