UN Climate Change Talk: We Are Running Out of Time

The UN climate change talks will wrap up on Friday, November 17, after two weeks of discussing the Paris agreement. During all these talks, the US stand its ground, defending its opinion about the use of fossil fuels. Officials from more than 200 countries were present at these UN climate change talks, including delegates from Washington. The conference took place in Bonn.

Their main focus was to negotiate a “rulebook” that is likely to be adopted next year, for enacting the global deal established in 2015 via the Paris Agreement. State officials indicated some mixed progress due to the fact that some divisions between developing and rich countries reemerged. The most important idea on which their discussion relied was finance for the poorest countries.

The rest of the leaders need to help them cope with and prepare for the fallout of climate change. They need to get ready for terrible floods and imminent superstorms. These storms will shortly become the norm. Many countries are also likely to experience severe droughts. During the UN talks, NASA scientists have also presented a new research.

They indicate that one of the solutions to stop global warming is using solar geoengineering. Nevertheless, other scientists demonstrated that this practice could pose serious threats. They could yield droughts in the southern hemisphere if the aerosols are deployed in the northern hemisphere. On the other hand, if scientists were to implement them the other way around, America would face violent storms similar to cyclones.

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When the world is ending…

Another obstacle during the UN discussions was the fact that developed nations led by the US indicated that all countries under the Paris agreement have the same obligations. However, at the same time, they want a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to the use of greenhouse gas polluters.

This conference has started on November 6th, and it ends on November 17th. It is the first conference of this types since President Donald Trump announced in June that the US would no longer obey the rules of the Paris agreement. However, the rules of the agreement indicate that the US can withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement in November 2020. Hence, until then, Washington still needs to honor its seat the climate talks.

Seyni Nafo is a negotiator for African nations. He argued that since Trump leads the US, the things are no longer the same. Most people think that everything has changed and not necessary to the benefit of the US. Besides the fact that Donald Trump refuses to believe in the existence of climate change, the US’s decision also influences other developed countries. Hence, this will have unpleasant consequences of what other nations decide to adopt.

On Monday, November 13, the White House hosted an event where many energy company bosses were invited. The purpose of the event was to defend the continuous use fossil fuels like natural gas, oil, and coal. We all know that all the factories, industries and power plants that are powered by fossil fuels emit dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

Country leaders at the Paris agreement

The US decided now to support the use of fossil fuel, abandoning the promise made at the Paris agreement.

The US promotes the use of fossil fuels

These emissions are responsible for the terrible effects of climate change. The most dangerous greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide and methane gas. These gases can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, affecting numerous generations and disrupting ecosystems. Furthermore, the CO2 particles in the atmosphere trap the heat coming from the sun, triggering hellish heatwaves.

The high temperatures do not only affect people, creating a discomfort due to the high humidity and atmospheric pressure, but they also affect animals. Many species around the world are currently on the endangered species list, or they have already vanished. Unfortunately, the tremendous heatwaves also caused a massive meltdown in Antarctica and Greenland.

Many glaciers of huge sizes started melting, leaving numerous polar species without a home. Animals like polar bears or seals are currently in danger since they find it more difficult to use camouflage to hunt or hide. On the other hand, the same heatwaves that melt the glaciers and fuel sea level rise also affect the Green Barrier Reef.

Hundreds of species of corals suffer due to coral bleaching, being affected by warm sea waters. The same warm sea water affects other marine creatures which used corals as their home. Now, they are no longer able to hide from their predators or to find appropriate food. Even if some of them reach to adapt to these changes, a big part of these species will disappear.

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The US decision may influence others

Therefore, the US refuses to replace the use of fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy like hydropower, solar power or wind power. Instead of becoming a more eco-friendly country, the US chooses to be against the decisions taken at the Paris agreement in 2015. All the countries that signed the agreement are to limit the average global warming. The temperatures need to drop under 2 degrees Celsius over Industrial Levels.

Even if some nations have voluntary submitted some emission-cutting commitments to support the Paris agreement deal, scientists do not have good news. They argue that the pledges might trigger a warming of 3 degree Celsius or even more. Now, the ongoing negotiations focus on when and how to update the commitments of some countries to achieve the 2-degree Celsius-goal.

Thoriq Ibrahim is the Maldives, environment minister. During the UN climate change discussions, he argued that their main task is now even more difficult due to the disengagement of the largest historic emitter in the world. Probably, the US’s decision will soon become other countries’ decision, too. The US can influence many other powerful nations to retrieve from the Paris agreement and policymakers are aware of that.

Summing up

With the US backing down from the Paris agreement deal during the UN climate change talks, the amount of greenhouse gases will likely increase. The US stated that they support the use of fossil fuels and they are ready to promote its benefits. Therefore, some may be tempted to pretend that they do not see the big cloud of pollution above our heads, continuing to state that climate change is a hoax.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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