U.N. Climate Change Conference engages world leaders.
Leaders from around the world gathered in Paris on Nov. 30 for the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference that will take place over the next 12 days, culminating on Dec. 11. The Paris talks are a critical chance for world leaders to agree on a sweeping climate action plan to reduce global climate change in future decades. Paris will be the third conference in a series of major international climate talks with the common goal of combating global climate change.
The first international climate talk took place in Kyoto in 1997. At the time, many world leaders viewed greenhouse gas emissions, and specifically CO2, as a potential threat, but there was no consensus on the best way to address climate change. According to NPR, the conference was seen as a failure because little action was taken after the meeting ended and some countries, including the United States, never signed the treaty.
In 2007, world leaders met once again, this time in Denmark for the Copenhagen Accord. The conference was only mildly successful and no treaty was created in Copenhagen. According to The New York Times, the accord recognized that developing countries do not have the same economic means to combat climate change as industrialized nations. A fund was developed to help developing countries meet the demands necessary to abate climate change.
Hopefully, Paris will be a more successful step toward reaching an international carbon emission reduction plan. Agreements made in Paris will be based partly off individual countries’ initial proposals on how to best reduce emissions. Scientists caution that if the global climate exceeds a 2-degree Celsius increase, major environmental detriments may ensue. However, they estimated that countries’ current abatement plans would lead to a 2.7 degree Celsius temperature increase. As a reference, there has been a five degree Celsius increase in global temperature since the Ice Age.
California and UC Davis will have specific representation in Paris. According to The Los Angeles Times, California Governor Jerry Brown and at least 10 other state elites will be in attendance. Lew Fulton, who works within the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, will also be in Paris.
The Editorial Board commends the efforts made by UC Davis and the state of California toward reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change. Not only do many Davis students help reduce carbon emissions through choosing to bike instead of drive, but the campus has also made recent changes to become more sustainable. UC Davis’ environmentally-friendly efforts include incorporating LEED certified buildings on campus and developing the UC Davis Climate Action Plan. Additionally, the University of California started the Cool Campus Challenge to encourage all UC campuses to reduce carbon emissions and increase sustainability.
As students of UC Davis, residents of California and citizens of the world, it is necessary for all of us to do our part to achieve carbon neutrality. Although the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris will likely focus on reducing emissions from large industries and corporations, small changes at the local level can make a huge difference. Let us all follow the examples set by our world leaders and unite to effect change that will benefit the global community.