Paris Climate Deal a ‘Big First Step’
Prince George, B.C. – The historic climate deal reached in Paris has been met with optimism at UNBC.
Michelle Connolly is the coordinator at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
“It’s a big deal because it’s a universal climate agreement, 195 nations signed it. It’s the first agreement to include all nations instead of just the rich ones,” she says.
“And it calls for countries to limit the increase in global temperature by 2100 to less than two percent above pre-industrial levels. With wording that suggests that we’re going to try and limit it to 1.5 degrees.”
Does that go far enough?
“It’s a first step. Ideally we would be going to the root causes of the problems but given that it’s a global agreement, having everyone agree to that is quite a big step.”
But Connolly also acknowledges the deal is non-binding.
“I’m still trying to understand what that means and I’ve heard both sides of the story. Non-legally binding might actually help some countries achieve real emissions reductions but as far as I know the targets are voluntary so that’s an issue.”
At the very least though she says it sets a framework for periodic reviews and assessments.
“To ensure that countries are meeting the commitments that they do make to reduce carbon emissions. So there’s wording in it that nations will be taking stock of the progress.”
Moving forward, she says people will need to look at news ways to live.
“We need to move away from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and we need to start moving towards developing renewable energies, cleaner energies to power our lives.”
Connolly notes she’s already seen an indication of that change in the unlikeliest of places.
“The Toronto Stock Exchange has launched a new sub-index to track companies that they call carbon efficient, or ones that don’t hold fossil fuel reserves,” she says.
“So it’ll make it easier to track companies based on their environmental impact and sustainable practices. So that’s an indication that something is happening even at those levels.”