The future of the planet could be decided in Paris. Indeed, from November 30th to December 11th 2015, the UN conference on climate change, nicknamed COP21, will be held in the French capital. After the failure of the Copenhagen Summit in 2009, COP21 must result in an international agreement to effectively fight against global warming. Why such urgency and, more importantly, what are the member states proposing?
Average temperatures are increasing, sea level is rising, ice caps are melting... The fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents a dark and alarming overview of climate change. In France and Europe the year 2014 was considered to be the warmest year in the history of recorded weather and the five first months of 2015 have set a new global warming record.
This situation is even more concerning as the IPCC estimates with 95% certainty that global warming is conditioned by human activity. According to the IPCC, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to be emitted at their current level, average global temperatures could rise by 4.8°C by 2100.
The year 2015 is supposedly a decisive one for the future climate of our planet. COP21's aim is to finalise an agreement that will keep global warming under 2°C. For this to occur, each State needs to commit to drastically reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. The stakes at the Conference are high as an international agreement would be binding and applicable to every country from 2020. Another essential objective of the Paris conference is to raise 100 billion dollars a year from developed countries to help developing countries fight climate change.
Before the Paris Conference, countries have to submit proposals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to the UN. The European Union, the third highest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, has committed to reducing its 1990 CO2 emissions by at least 40% before 2030. According to Barack Obama, the United States is committed to decreasing their CO2 levels by 32% before 2030. China, the world’s biggest emitter of CO2, announced that it would reduce its carbon intensity by 60 to 65% before 2030. The Australian government proposed to decrease their emissions by 26 to 28% before 2030.
If political states must play a fundamental role setting up measures to combat global warming, the ecological transition also depends on the initiatives of citizens, particularly through the actions of collectives and associations.
Organised by the Collectif pour une Transition Citoyenne (Citizen Transition Collective), the second edition of the Journée de la Transition (Transition Day) will be held on September 26th in different French cities. It will highlight the work of citizens and their local initiatives. Two days before COP21, millions of people will rally throughout the world to call for ambitious measures against climate change.
To coincide with the Paris Conference, the Alliance Française de Melbourne will organise its own conference on climate change in October in partnership with RMIT University.
For the Alliance Française de Melbourne
Translated from French by Laure-Anne Latinier and Bonnie Einsiedel,
students in the Master of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Monash University.
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