Heat Waves in China
On July 12, 2022, dozens of cities in eastern and southern China issued high alerts as the temperature exceeded more than 107 degrees Fahrenheit. These scorching heat waves in China are forecasted to persist for weeks. Unfortunately, this is not the first time China has experienced heat waves. Since 1990, heat waves in China have increased mortality rates, which reached 26,800 deaths in 2019 alone. These heat waves highlight the growing concern about extreme weather patterns as each year, natural disasters like floods have been becoming more common and dangerous. In southern China, floods have affected the lives of half a million people, killing hundreds and displacing many more in 2021. As the world’s largest carbon emission producer, China’s steps toward alleviating climatic hazards play a key role in the future of the planet.

Climatic Hazards in China

In the past decades, China has transformed its farmlands into cities, booming its economy and lifting millions of people out of poverty. In 2020, 0% of the population was below the national poverty line. However, rapid economic advancements in China have resulted in it producing more greenhouse gases than any other country in the world, according to Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Experts have predicted that these changes in the climate would result in more extreme weather events like floods and heat waves, which are currently taking hold of many cities in China.

As natural hazards affect one-third of agricultural land, those living in “ecologically fragile areas” in China are the most vulnerable to climatic hazards and are thus more likely to return to poverty or be poverty-stricken. A lack of infrastructure and resources makes it difficult for remote areas in China to adapt or cope with disasters. In the cities, climatic hazards weaken the population’s well-being as air pollution alone contributes to an annual 1.2 million deaths.

Heat Waves’ Impacts on the Economy

The recent heat waves in China have left a major manufacturing region calling for businesses and households to use less power. Meanwhile, pork prices are rising because of fear of crop failure causing consumer inflation to rise. According to the National Development and Reform Commission, hog prices increased by 46% since March and a number of feed producers warned that there would be an increase in pig, poultry and fish prices, CNN reported.

The heat waves in China have forced businesses to ration power, posing a challenge to manufacturing industries as they still continue to recover from the pandemic lockdowns. In recent GDP data that China published, the expected economic growth for April-June 2022 dwindled from 4.8% to 1%, according to CNN.

China’s Solution

China’s president, Xi Jinping, pledged to tackle these extreme weather conditions and make it a national priority in 2020. Beijing’s goals in addressing this issue include achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030, and boosting forest coverage by around 6 billion cubic meters and more, according to CFR.

However, these goals may not be ambitious enough. Experts have pointed out that the goals do not align with the Paris Agreement as China would need to reach peak carbon emission by 2025 to meet the Paris accord’s goals, CFR reported. Additionally, carbon emissions are not decreasing at the necessary pace to reach the ideal temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Still, China has exceeded most of the targets that it set out in 2015. Energy consumption of coal has dropped from 70% to 57% in the past decade and in 2019, China had half the world’s electric vehicles and 98% of electric buses, according to The Conversation. China is also becoming greener faster than any other country largely due to forestry programs that help reduce soil erosion and pollution.

Looking Ahead

While China’s targets lack ambition and a set cap on emissions, there is a chance for China to enhance its contributions to tackling heat waves. Pressure is mounting up on China as numerous countries, especially India and other developing countries, increased their pledges and with China’s position as a leader in the developing world, Beijing would likely make more aggressive targets.

Cooperation between China and other countries is also key in fighting extreme weather conditions. In 2021, the U.S and China have made a joint declaration in working together to combat the crisis. China is also open to working with Japan and South Korea in addressing environmental issues through yearly meetings with these countries, CFR reported.

The recent heat waves in China highlight the imperativeness to ramp up action toward fighting extreme weather conditions. More ambitious targets and accelerated progress in China would not only mean protecting the health and economic stability of citizens but also preserving the future of the world.

– Samyukta Gaddam
Photo: Pixabay

Hunger in Niger
About 20% of people in Niger are food insecure due to a growing population, regional conflict and environmental challenges. Though that percentage is rising, international organizations and governments are finding innovative ways to end hunger in Niger.

Threats to Food Security in Niger

According to the World Bank, Niger’s population is increasing annually by 3.8%, well above the average for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Coupled with a large number of refugees from countries like Mali and Nigeria, an extremely high birth rate is driving Niger’s population growth and ultimately causing food resources to become scarce.

As a result of the conflicts on the borders of Mali and in the Lake Chad Basin, an influx of refugees has migrated to Niger. Further, these regional conflicts have caused widespread displacement among Nigerien citizens domestically, resulting in a major displacement crisis. According to the Norweigan Refugee Council, Niger’s displacement crisis is severe and worsening from the lack of international aid and media coverage. Because food resources are scarce, this displacement crisis is intensifying hunger in Niger.

In addition to the upsurge in Niger’s population, environmental challenges pose a threat to food security. Niger experiences an annual dry or “lean,” season where a lack of rainfall limits crop production and thus lowers the availability of food. A dry season is regular and Niger’s people expect it; however, in the past 20 years, rainfall and temperature have become increasingly irregular, causing more severe food shortages. Nigerians are concerned that desertification and rising global temperatures will only extend and intensify the dry season, disrupting the livelihoods of the majority of rural Nigerien households that rely predominantly on agriculture to survive.

Although food insecurity affects all types of Nigerien communities, it more heavily affects two demographic groups: women and children. Women and children in Niger are more likely to experience malnourishment, which leads to higher rates of anemia. According to the World Food Programme, estimates determined that 73% of Nigerien children under the age of 5 and 46% of Nigerien women are anemic.

The International Community’s Role in Ending Hunger in Niger

Countries like the United States are supporting programs like the World Food Programme, Mercy Corps and Doctors Without Borders to relieve both the immediate and long-term effects of food insecurity in Niger. Each organization takes unique approaches to end hunger in Niger.

The World Food Programme, for instance, focuses on land rehabilitation programs that provide food and financial aid to families who are trying to recover unproductive farmland. The hope is that healthy land will allow agriculture in Niger to be prolific in the future.

Mercy Corps works with mostly Nigerien citizens on projects that encourage people in Niger to diversify their livelihoods in order to ensure that families have several opportunities to earn income in the event that climatic shocks should continue to stunt the agricultural industry. It helped more than 130,000 people in Niger in 2018.

While the World Food Programme and Mercy Corps focus largely on developing a self-sufficient Nigerien economy, Doctors Without Borders works to alleviate the immediate consequences of hunger in Niger by treating acute malnutrition, especially in children. The organization provided 225 families with relief kits in Tillabéri.

While regional conflict, a rapidly growing population and unpredictable weather further food insecurity in Niger, the international community is seeking a multidimensional solution to stimulate the Nigerien economy, end hunger in Niger and help communities flourish.

Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Flickr

The Societal Consequences Of Climate Change
In this day and age, climate change has grown to be one of the largest issues around the world and it is important to understand its environmental impacts. First, the increase in average temperatures contributes to the phenomenon of global warming that affects millions of species and plants. In addition, extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, have become too common and far more destructive than before. Another primary consequence of climate change is the reduction of Arctic sea ice. Ice melts have contributed to sea levels rising, mainly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. According to the EPA, sea levels have risen approximately 8 inches since 1870. The world should take action to stop climate change before it is too late. The consequences of climate change could worsen in the coming years.

Many mainly focus on the environmental effects of climate change. Now, it is time for the world to shift its focus towards the societal effects that climate change has on all ages. Specifically, individuals who live poor livelihoods are more prone to poverty due to the climatic disasters that occur around the world. Living in vulnerable regions with limited resources affects people the most as it is more difficult to recover. As the repercussions of climate change worsen, escaping poverty becomes more and more difficult. As a result, issues like food insecurity and the lack of access to water become more prevalent. Here are some societal consequences of climate change.

Food Insecurity

Climate change has become a benefactor for global poverty by contributing to the issue of food security. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the climate affects all four dimensions of food security including food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food system stability. Typically, the consequences of climate change mostly affect those who are most vulnerable to food insecurity. By experiencing the immediate risk of increased crop failure, new patterns of pests and diseases and loss of livestock, these individuals are not able to depend on stable food supply. To add, almost 60 percent of the world’s population depends on the agriculture industry in respective areas. When climate phenomenons hinder agricultural productivity, food insecurity puts risks on the livelihood of many individuals.

With this being said, leaders, such as the United States of America, have taken action to help combat this issue in developing nations. For example, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee supplied over $2 billion in climate-sensitive development support to developing countries in 2017. This included approximately $300 million targeted towards the food security sector. Moreover, projects like these provide an opportunity for global powers to display leadership qualities and allow countries that need aid in the food security sector to receive it. With proper access to food and stability within this industry, undernourishment will be an improving problem.

Access to Water in Developing Countries

Climate change seems to have a major impact on water access in developing countries. According to The New York Times, The number of months with record-high rainfall increased in the central and Eastern United States by more than 25 percent between 1980 and 2013. With this statistic being even higher in the eastern hemisphere, it is evident that floods have become a serious issue that many are concerned about. Climate scientists state that the soil and farmland absorb the excess water. Consequently, this means that the Earth could become contaminated with fertilizers and other chemicals. This polluted water typically travels to larger bodies of water such as the ocean, ultimately limiting water access for humans.

In addition, droughts are a growing issue in areas with hotter climates, limiting access to clean water. The lack of access to water can lead to health issues such as diarrhea and cholera. It can also affect the business sector in many nations. The Lifewater organization touches on this subject and explains that water is an essential component processing raw goods for food and textiles. This process provides jobs for millions and helps produce products such as coffee and chocolate. By understanding the importance of water to the health and economy, organizations such as UNICEF have implemented programs to educate the public on how to find access to clean water when natural disasters like floods and droughts occur. In the future, this action will also help alleviate poverty in areas that are at risk.

It is important that the international community shifts its focus on the societal consequences of climate change. Individuals such as Greta Thunberg and Christina Figueres already addressed this throughout the current fight against climate change. Hopefully, this will push governments around the world to implement policies that are more climate-sensitive. People need to view the current crisis from a larger perspective as it affects millions of individuals and their lifestyles. According to an article by BBC News, the world only has approximately 18 months before the effects of environmental change become permanent. In that period of time, it must highlight both environmental and societal consequences, and implement climate-sensitive policies. Additionally, individuals should believe in these improvements as they can lead to other positive changes such as alleviating poverty in lower developed nations.

Srihita Adabala
Photo: Flickr

UN Report on "Climate Apartheid"On June 25th, the United Nations released a report saying the world is at risk of a “climate apartheid.” This describes a situation where wealthy people will be able to escape heat and hunger caused by climate change, while the poor are forced to endure distressing conditions. Philip Alston, a UN expert on human rights and extreme poverty, said climate change “could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.” While there are many things to understand from the dense findings, there are key highlights that are crucial to know about the UN report on “climate apartheid.”

5 facts from the UN report on “climate apartheid”:

  1. Extreme weather conditions threaten to undo the last 50 years of progress in poverty reduction around the globe.
    Weather-related conditions like droughts and flooding are much more likely to occur if climate change continues to worsen. People who already experience extreme poverty tend to live in communities that depend on local harvests to survive. If weather causes food supplies to disappear, these people are likely to experience famine and malnutrition. This can result in illness and death.
  2. Even the “best-case scenario” for climate change would lead to food insecurity in many regions.
    Next, Alston says that “even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to widespread displacement and hunger.” Reaching current targets would mean only a 1.5 degree Celsius increase in temperature by 2100. This would cause many already poor regions to become food insecure.
  3. The UNHC says that it’s likely the wealthy will be able to pay to escape worsening conditions.
    Alston notes that “an over-reliance on the private sector could lead to a climate apartheid scenario in which the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict, while the rest of the world is left to suffer.” For example, he cited the 2012 Hurricane Sandy as an example of this, because many impoverished New Yorkers were without basic necessities during the disaster, while “the Goldman Sachs headquarters was protected by tens of thousands of its own sandbags and power from its generator.”
  4. Democracy could be at risk in affected regions.
    If weather conditions lead governments to declare states of emergency, it is likely to cause drastic changes in power structures. The report says “states may very well respond to climate change by augmenting government powers and circumscribing some rights. This will be a very fraught process and require great vigilance on the part of governments, human rights institutions and national and regional courts.” Additionally, some governments will be under-prepared to cope with serious conditions. As a result, this can cause social unrest and community discontent. It could even spark nationalist, xenophobic and racist responses.
  5. There are potential solutions.
    The report also suggests that tackling the problem with a human-rights-focused response may be the best way. It includes giving vulnerable communities access to protective infrastructure, financial aid, relocation options, employment support and land tenure. Additionally, this includes access to food, clean water and healthcare. Furthermore, the report noted that building coalitions are key to addressing the issue, saying “major human rights actors must tackle questions about emissions, resource allocation, and energy and economic policy that states are grappling with and where there is a real need for detailed, actionable recommendations.”

Why the report matters

Overall, the release of the UNHR document has sparked widespread media coverage and global awareness. Understanding these 5 Facts from the UN report on “climate apartheid” is a critical step in addressing the problem.

-Natalie Malek
Photo: Flickr

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, the agricultural sector of Puerto Rico suffered one of the most devastating losses in its history. The island lost about 80 percent of its entire crop value in the initial aftermath alone; according to the Puerto Rican Department of Agriculture, the damage amounted to approximately $780 million in lost agricultural yields. The organization, Boricua, however, promotes agroecology in the hopes of limiting agricultural damage in the face of future disasters.

The Impact and Aftermath of Hurricane Maria

For weeks after Maria, felled trees in the hundreds of thousands dominated the landscape of rural Puerto Rico, stripped of their leaves and bark. The storm also flattened fields of crops or simply blew them away. To make matters worse, the hurricane also killed thousands of livestock and decimated the infrastructure of the area.

For the few farmers who were still able to produce anything, the loss of infrastructure and supply chains rendered it virtually impossible to transport food from farms to cities or towns. Not long after the catastrophe ended, one dairy farmer reported that he had thrown out about 4,000 liters of milk a day for almost a week, since there was no way to transport or sell milk and nowhere to store it safely.

These losses occurred at the worst possible time; according to Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, the island of Puerto Rico had “only enough food for about a week.” Before the hurricane, Puerto Rico was importing roughly 80 percent of its food, a large percentage of which came from other islands in the Caribbean, including St. Martin and the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico became vulnerable to starvation between the destruction of homes, roads and vehicles, as well as the hurricane’s damage on nearby islands that exported food to them.

Food Vulnerability and Efforts to Rebuild

Many Puerto Ricans described the aftermath of Maria as a revelation, exposing the vulnerability of an island dependent on external sources for all of its food. For Puerto Rico to avoid this vulnerability in the face of future disasters, it needed to be able to rely on its own agricultural sector – the same agricultural sector that Hurricane Maria had recently ripped to shreds.

Despite the destruction, some Puerto Ricans saw this as an opportunity to begin rebuilding. After the end of the catastrophe, the Organization Boricua de Agricultura Eco-Organica (often known simply as Boricua, a local word for a native Puerto Rican), along with various other local organizations, such as the Resiliency Fund, mobilized to clear roads and provide assistance and food to rural communities affected by the hurricane. This help came mainly in the form of solidarity brigades, which were groups of local volunteers who had banded together to help their neighbors survive and rebuild after Maria.

Organization Boricua

For the Organization Boricua, these relief brigades came in moving camps which would spend three or four days in each farm they visited. During this time, volunteers would help rebuild farm structures and repair damage to farmers’ houses, along with helping farmers replant crops that had been ruined or blown away.

These relief camps represented a long tradition for Boricua. The organization, which emerged in 1989, promotes agroecology and solidarity among rural communities in Puerto Rico. For Boricua, the use of volunteer brigades was not a new development in response to the hurricane, but an old tactic being put to use in rural Puerto Rico’s time of need. Farmers affiliated with the Organization Boricua frequently form brigades to help their neighbors in times of need. Needy farmers may invite volunteers from neighboring farms to come over with food or spare tools or simply to help with harvests, plantings or repairs.


However, the organization’s work goes beyond promoting solidarity and mutual aid. Boricua is a proponent of agroecology – an ecological approach to agriculture which promotes biodiversity, sustainability and the use of native vegetation in farming. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Boricua relief brigades did more than simply help bereaved farmers keep their heads above water – the organization, along with many others, began preparing rural Puerto Rico for a more sustainable way of life.

Boricua promotes a holistic approach to farming, in which farms contribute to and rely on the natural biodiversity of their surroundings. In addition, agroecology allows farmers to stop being dependent on the use of commercial seeds, pesticides and fertilizers. By cutting free from commercial farming supplies, agroecology both fosters independence in small farms and denies the use of common agricultural practices that damage the environment.

Also, farmers in Puerto Rico have good reason to reject commercial agricultural practices. Research shows that one-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from agricultural production around the globe. Because of this, unsafe and unsustainable farming practices can come back to bite farmers; as the world’s climate grows warmer and more erratic, storms and droughts are growing more and more frequent. Hurricane Maria itself is a perfect example of this as the hurricane was one of the worst storms on record ever to hit Puerto Rico. Experts are worried that storms of Maria’s size and destructiveness may become the new norm if the pattern of global warming does not change. So, by turning Puerto Rico’s agricultural sector away from commercial practices, Boricua may be contributing a small part to the aversion of future storms like Maria.

In addition, there is a reason to believe that a more sustainable, more biodiverse method of farming would be less vulnerable in the face of another disaster like Maria. Research shows that smaller, diversified farms, on average, suffer less damage than larger farms that use monoculture.

Thanks to the efforts of the Organization Boricua and other local environmental organizations, Puerto Rican farmers have begun the slow climb out of the wreckage of Hurricane Maria and toward a greener, more sustainable future. Hopefully, if this trend continues, agriculture on the island will not only be able to heal from the hurricane’s damage but also better prepare itself for the next storm to come along.

– Keira Charles
Photo: Flickr

Women Globally are Combating Climate Change
As people continue to notice the increase in climate change patterns, those who have been mostly affected by the alternations have come together to discuss solutions to the re-occurring consequences of climate change.

Many of these people are women from rural communities around the world. Women globally are combating climate change by standing up to the companies who provoke pollution in the environment, and collaborating with international organizations, like the United Nations (U.N.), to propose solutions to help those affected the most by climate change and help rebuild their livelihoods.

Women from Rural Communities: The Main Struggle

Over the past few years, reports have surfaced about the plights of women who live in rural communities around the world; many who depend on agriculture to make a living.  These plights often reflect the societal disadvantages rural women face, compared to their male counterparts.

A report published by the United Nations states that, “Women and girls are among the people most likely to be poor, to lack access to assets, education, health care and other essential services, and to be hit hardest by climate change.”

With this statistic proven as a reality for many women from rural communities, many of these women globally are combating climate change by reaching out and getting those in power to listen.

Initiatives for Change

Several initiatives have been established in partnership with the United Nations, as well as other organizations, to combat the effects of climate change in international rural communities.

One such initiative is the Indigenous Women’s Divestment Delegation, which brought together indigenous women from North America to discuss solutions to the ever-present issue of indigenous territories being threatened by oil company exploitation. These companies will try to expand profits by overworking and mistreating local populations. In addition to the loss of sacred territory, these indigenous women also face the threat of climate change that can destroy their livelihoods.

According to Osprey Orielle Lake, executive director of WECAN, “Women are standing up for their own territories but also for the climate, for the water, for the forest, for the land. It’s important to understand that women who protect their land also protect the climate.”

Osprey also explained how the purpose of meetings like this are to confront banks with the option of exchanging the manufacturing of fossil fuels for the manufacturing of renewable energy.

Other Initiatives for Change

Women globally are combating climate change in nations like Bolivia and Mali, and have made significant efforts and collaborations with organizations to better assist women recover from the effects of climate change.

  • Bolivia: Since women hold the most responsibility for producing and preparing food, they are accounted as the most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. Women in Bali have made initiatives to create better livelihoods for themselves by passing laws that requires at least half of government positions to be held by women. Furthermore, donations  to Bolivian women have helped empower them to live more independent lives.
  • Mali: Women have dealt with the degradation of land and natural resources due to climate change, and so numerous supporters created initiatives to help equip these women to better overcome agricultural challenges. One of these initiatives is Agriculture Femmes et Développement Durable (AgriFed), created by the organization, Groupe d’Animation Action au Sahel (GAAS) Mali. This effort serves to help women farmers advance their farming practices as well as provide them with information on how to produce the best quality products.

As women strive to protect their land against climate change and businesses who try and push them from their sacred territories, more effort can definitely be done to ensure that mother nature doesn’t destroy the livelihoods of mothers around the world.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

Typically, when people deny climate change, they tend to assert the idea that climate change could not possibly affect them, or anyone, by the foreseeable future. Recent studies show how global warming affects the poor, and the studies predict an impact on the world’s poor as early as 13 years from now.

It has been known for some time that climate change will disproportionately affect the poor. First of all, most of the world’s poor live in tropical regions while wealthier people live in temperate regions, such as the Indonesian Islands compared to the United Kingdom.

The world’s poorest countries also have the most to lose from global warming and the least leeway for resolutions for these predicted losses. Most of the world’s poorest countries have citizens who depend heavily on agriculture – be it self-sustaining agriculture or agriculture for profit.

As recurring floods, heatwaves, higher-intensity storms, and droughts occur because of the increase in overall temperature, countries that depend on agriculture will suffer the most.

Consequently, deniers tend to think these problems will occur in a future era – if they occur at all. Unbeknownst to them, these problems may occur as soon as the year 2030, according to the World Bank.

A warming world will send an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty ($1.90 per day budget or less), of which nearly half will reside in India. Food prices in Sub-Saharan Africa will spike by 12 percent. One in every 25 people, in the poorest (tropical) regions of the world, will be in extreme poverty by 2030. That is an alarming amount of tragedy in 13 years.

Now that we know how global warming affects the poor, we must act.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

The Kigali Amendment: A Global Commitment to Cutting HFCs
This month in Kigali, Rwanda, nearly 200 nations agreed to a new deal to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, specifically hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The parameters of the deal have the potential to guide countries to preventing up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the year 2100 and outline a global commitment to cutting HFCs.

HFCs were first used in the 1980s as a replacement for other ozone exhausting gasses. Over time, however, the danger of these gasses has grown. HFCs are used in appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners, and sales among these types of products have soared in growing economies like China and India.

HFC gasses are critically dangerous to the global environment and as a greenhouse gas can be up to 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If the deadlines in the plan are followed, the deal is expected to reduce the use HFCs by 85 percent by 2045.

The Kigali Amendment was made as an addition to the Montreal Protocol, which came into effect in 1989 and aims at reducing the production and consumption of detrimental substances to the earth’s ozone layer.

A statement on the Kigali Amendment from the White House said, “While diplomacy is never easy, we can work together to leave our children a planet that is safer, more prosperous, more secure and free than the one that was left for us.”

The deal includes the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China, and separates nations into groups with various deadlines for reducing the use of HFC gas. The U.S. and other Western developed countries want quick action in phasing out HFCs while nations such as India will be allowed a bit more time for their economies to grow and industries to adjust to the new requirements.

The U.S. will start taking action by 2019 and more than 100 developing countries, China included, will start to cut back by 2024 when HFC consumption levels are expected to be at their highest.

The deal puts the promises made at the Paris climate change conference last year into effect. In December 2015, 195 countries met in Paris and agreed to the first ever universal and legally binding climate change deal. Now, the Kigali Amendment is holding these countries accountable for their promises.

U.N. Environment Chief Erik Solhiem stated in reference to the Kigali deal, “Last year in Paris, we promised to keep the world safe from the worst effects of climate change. Today, we are following through on that promise.”

This global commitment to cutting HFCs shows dedication and acknowledgment to current issues relating to global warming and climate change. The requirements of the legally binding treaty have the potential to considerably reduce the damaging effects of greenhouse gas emission.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

Paris AgreementThe United States and China, the two biggest global carbon-emitting countries, have ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement. On Sep. 3, 2016 both U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping submitted their plans to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The ratification was announced in advance of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting being held in Hangzhou, China.

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris was signed and adopted by 195 parties in December 2015. It asks the nations “to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future.” This agreement has come to be known as the Paris Agreement.

The UNFCCC in December 2015 saw a global compact to slash greenhouse gases and keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius. However, with the U.N.’s weather agency reporting that 2016 is on course to be the warmest year on record since records have been kept; it is already being questioned whether this goal can be reached. With the U.S. and China ratifying their agreements, and the U.N. Climate week in late September, a surge of ratifications is hoped for and expected.

U.N. Chief Ban said in a ceremony for the two countries: “With China and the United States making this historic step, we now have 26 countries who have ratified and 39% of global emissions accounted for…” It is hoped that with these two countries leading the way, more countries will follow suit. For the agreement to take effect, 29 more countries, which represent 16% of worldwide emissions, need to ratify their agreements. Once 55 countries that account for 55% of the greenhouse gases emitted have signed ratifications and filed them with the U.N., the agreement will go into force within 30 days.

The four countries with the highest emissions are China with 20.09%, the U.S. with 17.9%, Russia with 7.5% and India with 4.1%. The signing of the agreement was convened by U.N. Chief Ban in New York in April 2016. Country representatives signed the agreement before ratification. Once a country has signed the Paris Agreement, “it is obliged to refrain from acts that would defeat its object and purpose. The next step, ratification, signifies a country’s intent to be legally bound to the terms of the treaty at the international level.”

Before China and the U.S. ratified the Paris Agreement, only 24 other countries had done so and their emission impact on the globe represented only one percent. Now that these two large countries and large carbon emitters have ratified their agreements with the U.N., there is a bigger likelihood that the Paris Agreement will be set into place before the end of the year which is when it was expected. The agreement may even be enacted before November’s U.N. Climate Summit in Marrakesh.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

Wind Turbines: New Direction for Paris Agreement
With the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and fostering sustainable development, the Paris Agreement was developed to reduce carbon emission levels globally. The agreement was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 where 175 countries signed the global action plan at a ceremony in New York.

However, countries must engage in ratification to complete the pledge. Only 19 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement. Ratification involves undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets and enhancing their mitigating efforts to reduce carbon emission.

The agreement moved forward after 55 countries that account for approximately 55 percent of global emissions ratified it. U.S. and China have both agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement this year. Underdeveloped countries and small islands qualify for ratification by developing and preparing strategies for low greenhouse emissions reflecting their circumstances.

With the latest hopes to replace oil with wind turbines to lower greenhouse gasses, John Coequyt, director of the Sierra Club’s federal and international climate campaigns, declared that the Paris agreement included “all the core elements that the environmental community wanted.” Countries that have pledged to the agreement are solely responsible for their emission level as the agreement seeks to limit global warming to 2°C by the year 2020.

The Paris Agreement has also contributed to the boost in wind turbine sales which has proven to be a lucrative venture. “The COP21 agreement will provide the basis for additional public support and financing in growth regions, which should offset this development in the longer term,” said Moody’s Managing Director of Corporate Finance, Matthias Hellstern

The EU and other developing countries have agreed to continue to support environmentally friendly practices and positive impacts on climate change. The Paris Agreement has paved the way for wind turbines to be the main source of energy for developing countries and the solution to curbing high urban pollution levels.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr