10 November 2016
COP22: How to address media failure
COP21 has relaunched international action and is a huge step forward after Kyoto’s failings and the weak results from Copenhagen. But the hard work has only just begun.
Donald Trump’s win at the American presidential election yesterday is bound to change the game. As a clear skeptic and opponent of the Paris Agreement, he stated during his campaign that he would nullify the US ratification if he won the election. So much is yet to be done to fight against climate change, and the battle just got a little bit harder. If we want to truly understand the stakes COP22, we have to start with Decision 17 of the Paris Agreement, which was unanimously adopted on 12 December 2015 by 195 countries.
It shows us the scale of the effort states will have to undertake in order to meet their national contributions to tackling climate change. The text says that their different contributions are currently not “compatible with the scenarios […] that predict a temperature rise of two degrees.” We now face a colossal task. If all states make good on all their climate pledges between 2020 (when the agreement enters into action) and 2030, we will be emitting 55 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in 2030. But by this date, emission levels should be around 40 gigatonnes if we are to keep temperature rises beneath two degrees — an overshoot of 15 billion tonnes of GHGs. And this assumes all states fully respect their Paris commitments.