Vanessa Catenacci, The New York Times
On Friday, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, over 50 countries opened discussion on the reduction of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming has been at the forefront of international issues for the past few decades. Since 1975, the world temperature has risen .6 degrees resulting in a rise in sea levels, threatening many populations. Scientists have agreed that a 2.0-degree raise would push the planet past the point of no return.
COP-21’s goal is to establish international agreements and plan for action on the reduction of humanity’s international global footprint.
During the first day of debate, it became clear that there were three standing opinions within the committee on how to counter climate change. Countries such as the United States and China stated that providing financial aid to developing countries was the key to a successful transition from a fossil fuel reliant economy to one based on renewable resources.
On the other hand, Trinidad and Tobago and Morocco countered this viewpoint. Representing many other developing countries, these countries insisted that such a transition would damage their struggling economies. Rather, they insisted that the United States and other developed countries should focus on reducing their own emissions.
Finally, countries such as Saudi Arabia insisted on the importance of CO2 emissions and oil production to their nation’s economy. They insisted that there would be no effort put towards the concerns of global warming by their efforts, shocking many committee members.
Tensions began to rise from the dissident voices within the committee. While most countries supported the viewpoint of the United States, many others blamed them for their sizeable contribution to the international global footprint. Morocco strongly expressed their opinion, stating, “The USA is one of the leading producers of fossil fuels, 80% of their energy is generated from coal. While they create plans to aid developing countries, they also need to develop plans to reduce their own first world global footprint.”
The United States remained undaunted, continuing to protect their stance. “Within the recent Obama administration we are doing our very best...We are very committed to creating policies within our own nation, as well as around the world” stated the delegate.
Debate remained stagnant for hours, while bickering countries bounced back and forth, a fight between developing and developed countries as to who was at fault for the damage to the environment was. Hours passed with no resolutions brought to the table.
Finally, It was Austria’s example that led the way from the committee, the delegate stating:
“With so many other forms of renewable energy, such as hydropower, wind power, it is time we all take more responsibility for our actions. Austria currently holds an 80% share of renewables in electricity production, and wishes to further increase to 100% by 2030 with the eradication of fossil fuels for the production of electricity. It is Austria’s hope that other countries will follow suit in order to keep green house gases and climate change at bay.”
After seeing the example set by Austria, the tension in the room subsided. Ideas such as taxing private companies on greenhouse gas emissions, public incentives, and aiding developing countries began developing around the room.
Within the next few hours, a resolution was drafted pertaining to a required quota of percentage of energy that is renewable over 5 years. This quota would be based on the economic stability of the country.
Although the resolution is yet to be passed, the quarreling of the committee has relaxed and countries are motivated to pass a first resolution. Perhaps for the next two days, countries will turn away from the blame game and look towards finding successful solutions.