This past weekend, global leaders from 195 nations took part in a conference in Paris, France. The purpose of the meeting, called COP21, was to come to a critical agreement on one of the most pressing issues of our day: climate change. This accord is the first of its kind, coming after years of pushing by the United Nations for an international climate deal. COP21 focused on greenhouse gas emissions, and set a goal to keep global warming temperatures below 2℃.
According to NASA, the overall global temperature has increased by .75℃ since 1880. Considering this and the fact that 2015 has been one of the warmest years on record, the task of keeping the global temperature from rising above 2 degrees celsius seems daunting. And it is daunting–but not impossible–if we take action now. The climate accord is legally binding and requires action from every nation, big or small. Universal action on climate change is necessary to achieve this goal and protect our planet. From the biggest polluters like China and the United States, to small undeveloped nations, the agreements reached at COP21 are the first steps in making a difference.
The next step is following through. This means participation not only from governments, but from individuals as well. Below is a list of things you can do to reduce greenhouse emissions:
- walk, bike, or use public transportation
- drive less
- plant trees
- turn off lights when leaving the room
- use less hot water
- reduce, reuse, recycle
- do not be wasteful
“Whether or not this becomes a true turning point for the world, though, depends critically on how seriously countries follow through.” -Michael Levi, energy and climate change policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations