The COP24 summit on climate change wrapped up at the weekend in Katowice, Poland with a compromise agreement that keeps the global community on track to achieve the targets set out at the Paris accord on global warming. Certainly, any progress now on reducing our carbon emissions and limiting global warming is welcome, though given recent reports from the scientific community and the United Nations, it’s certainly worth asking if indeed the Paris limits are still too low. That being said, any effort or commitment by the international community to reduce carbon emissions and to offer compensation to developing nations is certainly worthwhile.
As with any international agreement, compromise means having to give way, but the fact that nations were willing to commit to the targets with developed nations contributing to an international fund for developing nations, the Katowice conference amounted to a good fortnight’s work. While the process is undoubtedly flawed and has its shortcomings, it is a process that has largely worked in a positive fashion since first conceived at the Rio de Janeiro conference in 1992.
We are now at a critical juncture in our human development both technologically and in terms of the natural world we all share in our trips around the Sun. We are stewards of this planet, passed to us from previous generations, beholden to ensure that it survives, that its remains liveable and that maybe, one day, our children’s children will actually get to enjoy seeing a polar bear in its natural environment, or be able to play in the sun, drinking enough water. Certainly, the anecdotal evidence is that our weather events are getting more severe by the year, our climate is changing, our world altered by our industries, our dependence on fossil fuels and our convenient throwaway lifestyle.
Carbon credits by their very nature represent a levy on our lifestyles and comfort, one that has been achieved by causing long-term damage to our natural world and environment. But they are a price worth paying to ensure that this planet survives and thrives.
Certainly, the growing populist movement globally has represented a setback to the goals of the environmental community. Too often, voters who opt for the loudest voices with the narrow agendas do not look beyond the false promises of personal or national endowment. The reality: COP24 has committed the broad international community to reach its old targets and commit by 2020 to new ones. That’s progress, and hopefully the doubters, deniers and detractors will have seen the very real facts — we have increased our planet’s temperatures to dangerous levels. And that must change.