World Leaders Attempt to Change Climate Change

A view of COP 21s English Twitter page. It provides daily updates and information on progress being made at the summit.

Photo Credits: Jeanine Ramirez

A view of COP 21’s English Twitter page. It provides daily updates and information on progress being made at the summit.

Recently, leaders of 150 nations the globe joined together at the United Nation’s COP 21, a climate change summit, to address the serious issues each country has in regards to the environment and come up with the “first universal climate agreement.” COP stands for Conference of Parties and the 21 represents their 21st meeting. The fist of the COP summits took place in 1995 in Berlin, Germany. Despite growing tensions with the Middle East and Russia, many of those countries leaders, including Vladimir Putin, attended.

Prior to the conference, each country sent their own plan to tackle climate change (called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDC’s) which make up part of a complex 66-page “U.N. synthesis report.” Despite what these world leaders have promised to change, the conference is said to most likely lead to a “slower future rate of growth for global carbon emissions, but not much more.” Leaders were eager to get to work since the rules binding “developed” countries in the Kyoto Protocol, “are almost certain to lapse in five years.” According to the U.N. website on the Kyoto Protocol, “The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.” This COP21 summit was seen as a good time to involve the countries that were not apart of the Kyoto Protocol and bring back ones that dropped out. The United States, never ratified it and countries such as China and India were exempt from it.

America and China are the two greatest emitters of CO2 and, during the conference, both nations met to discuss the issue. According to a CNN article, Russia has prevented an increase of greenhouse emissions and will reduce the output by 70% by 2030. According to the Huffington Post, China claims that it will cut emissions by 60% by 2020. Senior Sofia Curry shared how she feels about the leaders at COP21. “I think eventually someone will say something that will strike a nerve in the American people” she said, “once that happens and America takes that first step, others will follow.”

Each leader was given 3 minutes to speak, however President Obama spoke for almost 14 minutes despite his cue to end the speech. On December 3, 2015 the conference had “young and future generations day.” Even though many debate the seriousness of climate change, or on its existence, many can agree that the next generation will be the ones facing the issue. Youth advocates for climate change spoke out to the leaders in Paris. Ahmad Alhendawi, the Envoy of Youth appointed by the U.N.’s  Secretary-General, told the youth advocates that “This is one of the most important days – because what is at stake today is your present and future,” he said. “Nobody has the right to gamble with your future.”

If the summit is successful, it will be the COP’s first success in 20 years. If the countries follow their INDC’s until 2030, the growth of
emissions is expected to be a whopping 10-57 percent lower than the it was the past two decades. This bump could be a huge step in the right direction for future generations and the environment. There are many skeptics about whether climate change is even real, but one thing is certain to both sides: if this summit is successful there will be change, and good change too. Curry admits, “I mean, I never really knew what climate change was. I didn’t know it was a big deal. Now that a lot of important people are talking about it, it is obviously a big deal and this is making people more aware.” If the summit is not successful, countries will still attempt to reduce their emissions, however, if 150 world leaders meet and no good change comes of it, something must be wrong and it’ll be one more problem that will need to be changed.