The Paris Climate Agreement is about carbon dioxide (or CO2) causing the greenhouse effect for our planet. It is hoped that the agreement will be a huge step for cleaning up the air and, more importantly, keeping our polluted air from becoming worse. You would think that it would be a solution everyone on the planet could get behind but not everyone believes the problem even exists. And why is India coming aboard such big news?
Believe it or not, beautiful India is the third largest polluter of cardon dioxide in the world. Only the United States and China are worst polluters of air. (The European Union would also be higher if you consider that to be just one country as the Paris Climate Agreement does.) The air is so bad that air pollution is the fifth largest cause of death in India, with over 600,000 deaths each year. The city of New Delhi claims the ognominious title of worst city in the world. (Even worse than Los Angeles?) To make it even worse, while the world carbon pollution is falling due to increased efforts from around the world, India’s carbon pollution is increasing. The Paris Climate Agreement is intended to reverse this growing problem.
At least India is recognizing its own sizable contribution to the problem. On November 30th, 2015, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi promised that India will ratify the Paris Climate Agreement on October 2nd, 2016. The date is significant because it is also the birthday of world respected former leader Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi who would have turned 147 years old if he had not been assassinated on January 30th, 1948 at the age of 79.
The agreement needs to be ratified by at least 55 countries that cummulate over 55% of the total emission of green house gases in the world. Without India, we already have sixty one countries on board but their total aggragate is only 47.79% of the problem. Getting India on board will not only increase the number of countries to 62, it will also raise the total percentage to 51.89% or in other words, a world majority. The Paris Climate Agreement will be ratified.
With the Paris Climate Agreement in effect, all countries will be limited to a 2% rise in temperature in comparison to pre-industrial levels. Every five years, starting in 2020, the governments agree to meet and report to the public the goals achieved since the last meeting. The meeting also has the responsibility to increase the goals for the following year. The end goal is to have zero impact by the end of the century. Part of this will be accomplished by evaluating further achievements in science. It will also look into supporting economically reduced emissions not only in their own country but underdeveloped countries who are having trouble meeting the goals as well.
You would think so if the Paris Climate Agreement is ratified but the simple answer is… no. Nowhere in the agreement is there anything remotely resembling penalites of any kind if the agreement is not met by an individual country. It only agrees to try really, really hard to make it happen. If that country fails? Oopsie. Sorry about that. Will try harder next time. Having a bad day.
So, why have an agreement? While it may not be enough in some eyes, it does serve a purpose. If a certain country fails in its obligation, it can then be subject to public ridicule and shame. It can lead to unpopularity of leaders among their own country. There can also be economic sanctions. Want that very special cream of silky smooth sludge that everyone in your country wants? We don’t sell to countries that don’t follow through with the agreement. Sorry. Too bad. Try harder next time. You’re having a bad day.