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Paris Climate Talks

Jessalyn Megerle
Pulse Social Media Manager

FRANCE-GOVERNMENT-UN-CLIMATE
Photo retrieved from europa.eu

The Paris climate talks, or COP21, have been called, “the 12 days that will decide Earth’s future.” 40,000 world leaders, scientists, experts, diplomats, and advocates met in Paris on Monday for two weeks of negotiations to hopefully create a new global climate treaty.

Global leaders, including Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, David Cameron, and others, aim to create a short, simple agreement that will satisfy the majority of the world’s nations. The proposed agreements are widely viewed as the planet’s last chance to restrict global temperature rise to the two degrees Celsius that was agreed upon at the UN climate negotiation meeting five years ago.

2015 is on track to be the hottest year on record, and climate scientists agree that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the global consequences will be catastrophic: flooding, droughts, heatwaves, etc.

Developed and developing countries alike are involved, but there is tension between the two. As wealthier nations attempt to change their established ways and limit emissions, poorer countries argue they can’t bring millions of people out of poverty without increasing energy use, or without financial compensation for their green initiatives.

Dr. Michael Ferber, professor of International Development and Environmental Sustainability at the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, says, “These talks are extremely important for the entire world, but much more in terms of degree and immediacy for the developing world,” because poorer countries are likely to be the most affected by global climate change.

Messiah students especially have the opportunity to play an incredibly important role in the changing world. As Christians, we have a responsibility to advocate for the poor and consider “the least of these.”

Lyndsay Feather, Student Sustainability Coordinator, says, “While the Paris talks are so exciting and hopeful for our generation, we need to keep a balanced mindset that’s not necessarily full steam ahead. It’s that kind of thinking that will perpetuate injustice; considering the whole picture, though, will lead to lasting, beneficial change for everyone.”

Over 150 nations have already submitted plans to fight climate change in ways ranging from cutting fossil fuel use to preserving forests. Feather says these plans are crucial for the future. “The Paris talks really are so exciting to college students in our generation. We’re kind of at a critical point in dealing with global climate change that if action isn’t taken soon, we’ll be on a scary trajectory that will be exceedingly difficult to get off of, not to mention more expensive.”

As talks continue through December 11, there is worldwide optimism that a major agreement can be reached for the first time in history. If an agreement is reached, it will set up the world’s nations to work towards their emissions and climate change goals, and create a framework upon which to base future plans.

Grace Leveroni, a senior with a Sustainability minor who has been following the progress of the talks, states, “The Paris talks, have created the opportunity for students to have an up to date understanding of our current global actions and plans for future sustainable solutions.”

Feather also says the Paris talks have the ability to change the future. “I think the decisions that are hopefully made at the Summit will have a significant impact on current college students. If the anticipated decisions are actually made at the Summit, when we take our first steps into the real world in a few short years or months, the real world could look very different than how it looks now. We will have an important role to play in enacting the decisions made in Paris; the companies and organizations we’ll work for will have new standards and renewed visions that we, the young employees, will be responsible for carrying out. It’s not going to be a bunch of old men in suits taking climate change action; it’s going to be us, the new face of the corporate and non-profit world.”

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