Climate change is one of the greatest challenges mankind has ever faced. However, taking action to reduce this risk has represented a great task because most countries hadn’t shown their willingness to assume the costs of lowering Greenhouse Gas emissions. Therefore, during the last three decades, it had been very difficult to reach an agreement supported by the commitment of the vast majority of countries.
The COP16 Cancun Summit of 2010 represented an important step forward after years of paralysis and was the first time countries became committed at a certain degree. Yet, it wasn’t until December 2015, at the COP21 Paris Summit when most countries showed their willingness to sign their emissions reduction commitment and the Paris Agreement was reached.
The Paris Agreement reflects countries’ willingness to take ambitious action to reduce emissions. Some of them will have to focus on substituting fossil fuels for renewable energy while others will boost energy efficiency measures. Some countries will implement important programs to restore forests and agricultural land, while others will have to strongly promote public transport in their cities.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for everyone but there is indeed a vast menu of alternatives to reduce emissions that can simultaneously improve the quality of life of the world’s population. All these measures aim to fight global warming and thus avoid its most negative consequences, as scientists have forecasted: hurricanes, droughts, floods and many other “natural” disasters.
After an agreement was reached, the UN Headquarters in New York hosted the High-Level Signing Ceremony of the Paris Agreement on Earth Day. Signing countries are now formally committed. It is most relevant because on the very first day 175 countries signed their commitments, including the main carbon emitters:
China, the United States, the European Union (28), as well as India and Russia. This early participation sets a new high in the signing process of any international agreement in history, showing the level of support that has been reached recently.
This is not the end of the story. There remains much more work to be done. The next stage will be the ratification by countries representing at least 55% of global emissions. Once this happens, the Agreement will become legally binding for allthe signing parties.The parliaments of some countries have already come forward and have approved the Agreement even before it has been signed. However, it will be important to have a fast and widespread ratification. Mexico represents only 1.7% of global
GHG emissions but has demonstrated decisive international leadership on climate change for many years. In 2012 it was the first developing country to have a Climate Change Law. In March 2015, it was the first developing country to present its national contribution to emissions reduction. Hopefully, the Mexican Senate will ratify the Agreement as soon as possible and continue with the national tradition of climate leadership.
Even after ratification, countries will have to build comprehensive strategies to shift their economies and fulfill their commitments. Companies will have to invest in a cleaner future and spark processes of sustainable innovation. As citizens, we have the duty to get more involved and take the initiative to recognize those leaders that are making the right choices and those companies that are taking the right path.
We must aim to invest more in clean and renewable energy, we must use less fossil fuels, walk more, depend more on public transport. We must all collaborate according to our possibilities.
Undoubtedly, there is much to be done, but among so many news, here we have a positive one: now we have good reasons to hope that mankind is going to react on time and prevent the worst consequences of climate change. Let’s congratulate world leaders for this important step in favor of the planet.