Prince Amir Al Saud

2015 Paris Conference on Global Warming: Dissecting the Outcome’s Best and Worst Case Scenarios

2015 Paris Conference on Global Warming: Dissecting the Outcome’s Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Thirteen days before Christmas 2015, 195 leaders of world governments reached a historic first in Paris. Considered long overdue, the deal on climate change which saw more than 180 of the attendee governments submit their individual national targets for reducing carbon gas emissions and contribute to the global pledge of keeping global warming well below the acceptable 2 degrees Celsius limit has been considered by many as the world’s best Holiday gift to Mother Earth.

However, there are still some sectors of society who approach the whole accord with a mixture of skepticism, pessimism, and a little bit of trepidation. It is largely believed that, like all other so-called global accords in the past, issues in the interpretation and actual operationalization of the generally broad guidelines of such world agreements can vary from one country to another. This greatly undermines the value of what the deal on climate change hopes to achieve.

Best Case Scenario

If all 195 signatories to the deal on climate change can really meet their end of the agreement, the world might as well see a significant steadying of environmental temperatures for the next several decades or so. With the target at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, 0.5 degree points below the ‘acceptable’ global warming limit of 2 degrees Celsius, significantly catastrophic weather events may, at the very least, occur with lesser and lesser frequency. Worries about rising sea levels that will erase low-lying islands from the world map will hopefully be contained, even temporarily.

The 195 countries will be able to stop increases in greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce them to significantly lower levels that will allow oceans and forests to naturally and safely absorb these greenhouse gases. This will also mean that each of the 195 countries will provide national targets needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that this needs to be reviewed every 5 years. Transparency in reporting has always been a major issue in the past. As a best case scenario, each of the 195 countries would have done their best to be transparent in their reporting of results-on-target.

If all goes well, wealthier nations will be able to support the greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiatives of developing countries. This leads to lesser worries about global cataclysmic events and its ramifications on man’s modern way of life.

Worst Case Scenario

Given that there are no penalties for nations that fail to achieve their greenhouse gas emissions targets the whole success of the climate change accord is placed in a precarious balance.

In a worst case scenario, nations will have difficulty laying the foundations and the political and socioeconomic infrastructures necessary to operationalize the targets. Time has been the witness to many world plans remaining as mere pieces of paper duly signed by individuals. Despite these often grandiose plans, no concrete actions have ever been taken. If there were, a great number were just unsustainable simply because one government administration may have an entirely different understanding and priorities from its predecessor.

Additionally, the rule on transparency does not guarantee that nations where transparency is considered a national liability will really adhere to such provisions. Furthermore, developing nations are only encouraged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions so the pressure is not actually on them.

The financial support by wealthy governments to developing nations who have concrete plans of action for reducing gas emissions may all turn to waste. Nations with a bad reputation for graft and corruption abound, a great number of those in the 195 countries in Paris don’t sit well with anti-corrupt practices bodies.

If worse comes to worst, rising sea levels will wipe out entire island nations, deaths will ensue from heat stroke, drought, and famine. The La Nina and El Nino phenomenon will continue to worsen bringing extremely wet weather systems on one side of the globe and maddeningly scorching hot and dry on the other side.      

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