What Will the World Look Like Following the Paris Agreement?

COP21 makes history.

After two weeks of talks between representatives from 196 nations, the world has come to a first-ever agreement on how to slow the coming climate change. The Paris Agreement aims to transition the world's economy away from dependency on fossil fuels, signaling to businesses that the future will be driven by clean energy.

“The reduction of greenhouse gases have become the business of all,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to The Washington Post.

#ParisAgreement is adopted in #Paris at #COP21! #GoCOP21 pic.twitter.com/9wCxyshWa7

— COP21en (@COP21en) December 12, 2015

Nations really came together in Paris, marking a real commitment to change. As NPR's Christopher Joyce remarked, “There has not been a global deal to curb emissions of greenhouse gases and to curb global warming since 1997 when the so called 'Kyoto Protocol' was signed.”

At the moral heart of this agreement are the island nations, which are most at risk of suffering the damaging effects if the temperatures were to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius. The text declares that the world's nations will make an effort to limit “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson realized long ago that “our carbon-based lifestyles, creating these greenhouse gas emissions are already affecting the poorest. And in a way I think that’s not the way we hear about climate change.”

We don't want the planet's temperature to rise, but the truth is this agreement isn't going to be enough to dramatically change the course of climate change. We've already hit that 1 degree Celsius rise in temperatures, and scientists say temperatures are still going to rise by as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next few years.

“Even if all the initial targets in Paris are met, we'll only be part of the way there when it comes to reducing carbon from the atmosphere,” President Barack Obama said in a statement to the press.

The Paris Agreement is ambitious in its goals, aiming for a zero-carbon-emission economy to be established by the later half of the 21st Century. It's a confirmation to businesses that we're moving away from coal and fossil fuels.

“Businesses wanted a signal about how the future economy would be shaped,” Michael Jacobs, policy advisor for New Climate Economy said in an interview with Wired.


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: PATRICK KOVARIK / Getty Staff

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