Climate Change Conference

What is going to happen if COP21 is not enough to save climate

Cop 21, la Francia ha ammesso che gli impegni dei governi per ridurre le emissioni inquinanti non saranno sufficienti a centrare gli obiettivi prefissati.

Will the climate conference COP21 to be held in Paris in December be really crucial? The question is legitimate. So legitimate that even the French Minister for Ecology Ségolène Royal asked it. But first, let’s take a step backwards: to date, 151 states have officially submitted their commitments in reducing emissions. Added together, they represent about 95% of pollution at global level: it is the undeniable evidence of the collective consciousness of the seriousness of the problem.


Ségolène Royal minister France
The French Minister for Ecology, Ségolène Royal, has confirmed that countries’ commitments to fighting climate change are not enough ©Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images


However, will these pledges be enough to overcome the challenges ahead? Well, France’s Minister for Ecology has declared on 13 October, in occasion of the World Efficiency Show in Paris, that “governments’ commitments in terms of average temperature increase will be 2.5 to 2.7°C by the end of the century, as confirmed by NGOs, scientists, and climatologists”. It is a significantly higher value compared to the goal set by governments in occasion of the previous conferences (2°C).


Nevertheless, considering the difficulties of negotiations and the countries’ different orientations on climate change, the French Minister seemes to be optimistic. “The dynamic is positive, considering that we dreaded exceeding 3°C. However, commitments are clearly not enough”.


Fusione ghiacciai cambiamenti climatici2
Just a few weeks to go to COP21, it is clear that the global average temperature increase will be not kept below 2°C by the end of the century ©Joe Raedle/Getty Image


Therefore, we probably have to take for granted that by 2100 global average temperature increase will be about 2.6°C higher than today. What does it mean concretely? According to data by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), there will be – among others – a higher risk of drought in numerous areas at mid- and low latitudes, an increased risk of extinction to 30% of living species, a significant coral bleaching, a modification in marine ecosystems, a decrease in crops’ yields at low latitudes, and an increase in storms and floods that will affect millions of people more than today.


It is thus clear that if no agreement is reached in Paris, all these risks will take place, turning into a global catastrophe. We should therefore welcome a new Kyoto Protocol, even with the unsatisfactory terms outlined by the countries so far. However, we wonder if this is the very best governments can do to safeguard generations to come.


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