In April 2016, fifty-five countries signed the “Paris Agreement”, often referred to as the “Paris Climate Agreement.” Since the agreement first opened for signatures, that number has grown to 125 countries.
This agreement has sparked a fair amount of debate in all political spheres, particularly in conjunction with the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement in June 2017. Accordingly, it can become a very passionately-argued issue.
This article is not intended to discuss the agreement from a biased point of view. Rather, let’s talk about exactly what the agreement’s intentions are, along with ways that you can support its efforts in your own daily life.
What is the Paris Climate Agreement, anyway?
While debate has raged on about the positives and negatives of the Paris Climate Agreement, it is very important to understand exactly what the agreement says and what the goals were for the countries that signed it.
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement was intended to be a joint global effort to address the threat of climate change. To do this, each country signed on to pursue efforts that would limit the global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius and attempt to further reduce the increase to 1.5 degrees.
Along with those efforts, the agreement intended to help countries deal with the impact of climate change and mobilize financial and technological resources to assist in that effort.
Here are the key details of the agreement.
The Paris Climate Agreement goals were intended to be lofty, but realistic, providing a framework for countries to take action today to help the planet in the long term.
These are just a few of the key details of the agreement, beyond the long-term temperature goal already mentioned:
- Determine and reach a global peak of greenhouse gas emissions (or GHGs) as soon as possible, in order to start to decrease emissions
- Individual goals for each country, referred to as “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), committed and reviewed every 5 years. This includes information needed for clarity and transparency
- The implementation of market and non-market-based approaches for nations of every level to partake in
- Countries are to understand and take action to minimize and avert loss and damage associated with climate change
- Developed countries are to support the efforts of developing countries
- Public awareness and education related to climate change will be implemented in participating countries
- A comprehensive, “Global Stocktake” will be conducted in 2023 and every 5 years after, using available science to evaluate the progress of the participating countries toward the main goals of the Paris Climate Agreement
Now, this is a very broad look at the Paris Climate Agreement, as it is quite lengthy and detailed, but the ultimate goal is simple: work together as a planet to combat global warming.
The Paris Climate Agreement timeline focuses on 2025 and 2030 as the main targets initially, and the importance of keeping global temperatures below those thresholds to reduce damage to the environment.
How to support the Paris Climate Agreement at home.
The United States announced their intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017. While this action produced passionate opinions on both sides of the debate, those concerned with climate change and its effect on our environment can still support the efforts of the Paris Climate Agreement in their daily lives.
Small changes produce big results. Rather than racing to implement “extreme” or “drastic” efforts, making a few minor adjustments to your home and work life can benefit the environment tremendously.
If all 326 million citizens of the United States were to, say, stop buying plastic water bottles, it would have a massive effect on our environment.
The best way to address world problems is to focus on what you can control. When it comes to reducing your environmental footprint, you have a lot of control over the decisions that you make.
This list is by no means definitive; there are hundreds of ways to reduce your environmental impact. Here are just a few ideas:
- Choose energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances
- Completely turn off appliances and devices that you are not using
- Find alternative ways to cool your house in summer, like closing the curtains, rather than running the air conditioning
- Line-dry your clothing
- Switch to clean energy sources when possible - this can be done easily without any special equipment
- Limit your usage of disposable items like paper plates and plastic forks
- Use rechargeable batteries
- Recycle organic waste from your kitchen in a compost pile
- Use environmentally-friendly fertilizers
- Buy produce in-season and locally, to reduce the impact of delivery and transportation from other parts of the country
- Bring your own reusable bags to the store
Use clean energy without breaking the budgetCheck availability
Here is the good news.
While these small changes may not feel like they are making an impact on the environment, they actually can be very effective.
Regardless of the political battles around the subject, most citizens of the United States are very aware of the impact that our lives have on the environment around us. We are actively looking for ways to reduce that impact and take better care of our planet.
Because so many of us are doing our part every day of our lives to make these improvements, the data shows that it is paying off.
Recent statistical analysis says that, despite withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the United States leads the world in reducing carbon emissions.
This tells us that the efforts that we are putting into reducing our impact are working to make this world a better place.
Can we do better? Absolutely. And we should do better. One of the most powerful ways you can make an impact is by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources.
But you don’t have to go out and buy solar panels to attach to your roof. (Although, if you can, it’s a great option). Instead, Arcadia makes it as easy as a few clicks to support clean energy in your state.
See how you can use your normal energy bill to support clean energy and reduce your environmental footprint quickly and easily.