The climate change pact – what’s it mean for us?

The climate change pact – what's it mean for us?

Sasha Larson

On Saturday, Dec. 12, 196 countries signed a global climate pact. Its aim? To keep the world’s temperature from rising one degree Celsius through the year 2100. The agreement determined other goals for the nations involved. But what does it all mean? Here’s a rundown on the Paris Agreement.

The pact marks an international milestone. In 2009, the Copenhagen climate talks ended in disarray. The Paris Agreement, on the other hand, included both wealthy and developing countries, with arrangements to help the latter in adapting to fewer gas emissions. French president Francois Hollande believes the pact will go down in history. “You will be able to say that on the twelfth of December you were in Paris for the agreement on the climate,” he said to delegates. Senior and tree hugger Zoe Boyles agrees. “The fact that we were able to cooperate internationally gives me some hope,” she said.

The results should be effective. Cutting the world’s temperature from just two to 1.5 degrees Celsius creates great impact. It could save 140 million people’s homes from destruction due to rising sea levels, Ben Strauss, a Climate Central sea level researcher, told the Associated Press. Fewer carbon emissions also mean cleaner air and less premature deaths, according to Live Science.

Not all countries adopted a plan. While the Paris Agreement proves a promising landmark, some still have their doubts. First, the involved countries’ governments need to ratify the pact before they can act on it. “We’ve agreed to what we ought to be doing, but no one has agreed to go do it,” Dennis Clare, a Federated States of Micronesia negotiator, told the Associated Press. Nicaragua envoy Paul Oquist denied the pact for another reason – he believes it’s not effective enough at combating global warming. Boyles, on the other hand, “[doubts] that every nation will follow through with the framework put forward. There still isn’t enough urgency being placed on the issue of climate change.”

Citizens still need to take action. To reach the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal, the planet must essentially stop using carbon-emitting energy sources within the next fifty years. People, not just governments, need to work toward a greener reality, Boyles believes. “Activism at the local level is very underrated, but very easy for high schoolers to get involved in,” she said. “Even simple things like riding bikes instead of driving can do a lot.”