A recent U.N. climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco demonstrated that the multinational fight against rising global temperatures continues, as the event ended with 47 of the world’s poorest nations pledging to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
The goal was set in place during the conference’s Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a meeting designed to discuss methods in which nations could meet benchmarks set by the Paris Climate Deal. Haiti, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Malawi, Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Honduras, Cambodia, Sudan and many other nations made the commitment to transfer to renewable energy.
The Paris Climate Deal is an agreement reached by 195 nations during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference to limit the average rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Switching to renewable energy sources will allow the world’s poorest nations to avoid the mistakes of more developed nations, also known as “leapfrogging.” Though the term is usually used for economics and business, it describes the ability of parties to avoid the problems plaguing their more developed counterparts by skipping over these problems entirely.
For example, the world’s poorest nations switching to renewable energy sources allows them to fuel economic growth without raising greenhouse gas emissions to dangerously high levels, like countries such as the U.S. have done.
The nations in agreement planned to have 100 percent renewable energy systems in place sometime between 2030 and 2050. Each nation must turn in a detailed plan to reach this goal to the U.N. by 2020.
Cutting greenhouse gas emissions may also help the world’s poorest nations increase water and food security, as some of the nations are part of the Vulnerable Twenty — the group of nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
For example, Bangladesh already suffers from flooding and rising sea levels due to its low elevation. Cyclones regularly displace the country’s 156 million people. Though the country had planned to build 24 coal power plants to expand energy access to the half of the population that lives off the grid, the CLF called for Bangladesh to use sustainable energy to meet this demand. Coal power plants will only worsen the catastrophic events Bangladesh experiences due to climate change.
The success of the Paris Climate Deal will hinge largely on monetary contributions from developed nations which agreed to contribute $100 billion to sustainable energy initiatives. The U.S. pledged to contribute $3 billion.
The goals of the climate agreement are put in jeopardy if powerful nations defer or abandon their contributions. So far, the U.S. has only contributed $500,000 of their promised contribution.
Though the U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stated he will cancel the U.S.’s part in the Paris climate agreement, in recent interviews Trump said he will simply keep “an open mind” about the agreement.
– Cassie Lipp