The world has finally woken up to the problems of climate change with every country in the world sending representatives to COP21 conference in Paris – but what do the results really mean for you?
World leaders put aside their political differences and agreed climate change or global warming was the vital issue for mankind in the 21st Century.
After two weeks locked behind closed doors and tasked to come up with a solution, negotiators emerged to celebrate a new agreement to save the world. Or did they?
The final agreement was that the world’s 195 nations would attempt to keep greenhouse gas emissions to the level they were at before the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century.
Governments need to commit to pledges
Effectively, this means the average global temperature should not exceed 2 Centigrade more than the pre-industrial era temperature of around 13.6 Centigrade.
Exceeding that temperature is thought to be the point when climate change starts to threaten life on Earth.
Despite the cheers and tears that welcomed the agreement, the actual wording turns out a little woolly.
The final documents include a lot of recommendations, ‘coulds’, shoulds’ and ‘woulds’ providing governments commit to the action called for from COP21.
The conference was held under the auspices of the United Nations, but little of the final document is legally binding on any nation.
In the end, controlling global warming is all about cold, hard cash.
One of the key agreements is a $100 billion cash mountain from developed countries to help poorer countries pay their way from burning fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable energy and nuclear power.
Each country will determine an emissions target – called Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs). All but eight countries have set their targets, but if all the targets are met, the average global warming level will hit 2.7 Centigrade –well above the level recommended by the conference.
These targets are not compulsory but affect everyone at a basic level.
That includes the way people travel to work, heat their homes and the taxes paid to raise the money needed to accomplish greenhouse gas emission targets.