Paris Climate Report Card Gives World a Failing Grade

Sep 12, 2023

In 2015, officials of nearly 200 nations gathered in Paris. They hoped to find unity on one issue affecting every one of these countries: a dangerously warming planet. 

By the end, 197 countries had ratified the Paris Agreement. It called for each country to submit a plan to reduce its own emissions that cause climate change.

Eight years later, the first major assessment on the effectiveness of that global climate treaty revealed that some progress has been made. For example, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions has slowed. Yet that progress still falls far short. It does not avoid dire climate changes that threaten our planet. That’s according to a United Nations report. It was released over the weekend. Experts in the US and South Africa wrote the report. It was based on data from governments, scientists, and others around the world.

Earth’s temperature has risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius since before the Industrial Revolution, which opened in the mid 19th century. The Paris treaty called for countries to curtail that rise. The goal was “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also called for a “good faith effort” to keep it at 1.5 degrees.

If nations do not meet these marks, cataclysmic events could plague the world. These include floods, wildfires, droughts, heat waves, and severe storms.

Today, climate promises by countries would raise global temperatures by 2.5 degrees by 2100. The report said this is even if all nations met their currently stated goals. A much stronger effort to expand solar, wind, and nuclear power is necessary, the report concluded. And that’s coupled with a big decrease in the use of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas.

Photo from Unsplash courtesy of Greg Rosenke.

Reflect: What challenges might arise when different nations work together on issues such as climate change?

What idea is highlighted by the author throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. successful global efforts to combat climate change
b. the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement
c. the urgency of addressing global temperature rise
d. the rise of the Industrial Revolution
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