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Does the Paris Climate Summit Actually Mean Anything?

Paris Climate talks
The Paris Climate Summit will be characterized as a success. The goal posts have been changed, and negotiators have changed what qualifies as success. But will man’s interest in polluting the environment actually change because of what has been discussed in Paris?

Instead of insisting on a top-down legal approach where countries are leally bound to reducing emissions by international bodies such as the UN, now countries are ‘pledging’ to reduce emissions based on internal, national agreements. Join host John Harrison and Steffen Kallbekken, Director of CICEP (The Centre for International Climate and Energy Policy) and research Director at CICERO (Norway’s foremost institute for interdisciplinary climate research) in a hard-hitting discussion on this topic.

Steffen offers various positive points of view: The previous top-down legally binding system did not work. A bottom-up system means that individual countries will be legally bound by their own governmental and legal systems to implement emission-reducing targets. Thus, according to Steffen, there is more chance that measures taken will be effective.

On the down side, the previous schism between the positions taken by rich and developing countries remains. Developing countries still feel the need to catch up industrially with rich countries, and are in many cases doing the ‘dirty work’ in terms of industrial production outsourced to them by wealthy countries. Rich countries have not contributed as much as they could have in financial aid packages to help developing countries clean up their manufacturing processes. A political solution is not easy to achieve because of vested interested incurred by globalization.

Nobody talks about this officially of course, but many delegates have already adopted a compromise situation. Temperature rises are now very likely to surpass 2C by 2020. The question now being debated, is by how much, and can we stop temperatures charging over the 3.5C barrier?

Human nature, sadly, dictates that when times are hard, and survival is in question, we tend to look after our own interests first. We are now entering a phase in human history when hard times may become the new norm, just as they were in the past. In well-off countries we have become incredibly professional at disassociating ourselves with bad news from countries that are a long way away from us. We construct a social reality with which we are comfortable, and this is often entirely selfish if one looks at the situation from a planetary perspective.

The Paris Climate Summit has been a fascinating analysis of the human predicament.

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