Monday marks the debut of Paris climate change conference, which the U.N. hopes to turn into a global agreement on some of the most pressing issues of the day – global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.
But critics are not certain whether climate talks in Paris could make a real difference since past similar gatherings led to no positive results.
The last major UN gathering on climate change was held in Copenhagen six years ago. Back then, the entire world had high hopes that the issue may be finally tackled, but to anyone’s disappointment negotiations broke down.
In 2009, world leaders couldn’t reach an agreement on how, when, and by how much carbon emissions should be reduced. Analysts believe that Copenhagen negotiations utterly failed because there was no real pressure on participants to reach a consensus. Six years ago, it was more convenient to world leaders to disappoint a weak climate change movement, than to fall from fossil fuel industry’s graces.
Nevertheless, in the meantime context has changed. And the U.N. bets everything on this shift that this year’s climate talks would be a success. So, what has changed? In six years, the climate movement grew in size and is no longer a whim of a select few.
For instance, in 2014 New York saw 300,000 people gathered on the streets to ask from authorities action on climate change not just words. The movement was one of the largest in the last decade and prompted Obama to get in touch with the U.N. and pledge that the White House would ‘answer the call.’
A few weeks later, the U.S. reached a deal with China to curb carbon emissions to a certain limit. The agreement was the first of its kind for China and a promise for a stronger commitment for the U.S. The U.S. and China are currently the planet’s largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions.
But since 2009, climate movement is not the only thing that altered the context of climate talks. Clean energy technology is now more affordable and efficient. For example, price of solar panels plunged 80 percent in the last six years. Wind power has also saw some major advances that now allow entire countries such as Denmark to fulfill their energy needs from the breeze.
Additionally, clean energy can now be accessed by emerging markets, as well. China would rely less on coal in the coming years and is working on its clean energy infrastructure in a speedy manner.
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