Paris Climate Conference


Maya Lapp, Senior Writer

This past week began the first major conference focused on climate change since the summit in Copenhagen in 2009, which was considered, almost unanimously, a complete failure. The Paris conference has so far been much more successful and, unlike many such meetings, has been reported on schedule as of the midway point on Saturday. The negotiators have created a 21 page draft agreement, compared to the over 300 page draft that was prepared by this point in the conference five years ago. The mood of the negotiators is much more cooperative; China’s President Xi Jinping and United States President Barack Obama, who lead two of the countries who produce the most pollution in the world, have been working cooperatively thus far, unlike previous conversations regarding this issue.
Unfortunately, this goodwill is not universal; the draft at hand has many brackets, which represent points of disagreement between negotiators, none of which will not be simple to resolve. One example of this is the debate between limiting temperature increases to below “1.5°C” or “well below 2°C”. The ambiguity in word choice in the latter option could create a lack of solidarity with the mission, and is condemned as worthless by many environmentalists.
The biggest source of opposition to a strong agreement limiting climate change is presented by developing countries, who argue that they should not be held responsible for reducing their emission of pollution to solve a problem that was created mainly by developed countries. These countries are led by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who calls for developed countries to invest billions of dollars to helping India and its companions with the transition to alternative energy sources.
There has also been resistance to the Paris climate talks within the United States government. The Republican dominated Congress has voted to repeal clean power plant laws, and although they do not have the numbers to overrule Obama’s inevitable veto, it has sent a message to the other leaders now in Paris that Obama does not have unanimous political support in this issue. Democratic congressmen have responded by assuring the negotiators that they “had Obama’s back” regarding climate change and will work to undermine the Republican-controlled Congress.
Despite conflicting opinions during this conference, the representatives have laid a solid foundation and will spend the next week revising it. It is paramount the negotiations continue to go smoothly, because this conference may hold the fate of the world in its hands.