The Paris Agreement is one of the latest current attempts to minimize gas emissions and to stop and slow down climate change. Binding to all countries that have signed the Agreement, this document has brought hope for a better future and has become one of the symbols of sustainable development and environmental policy. The Paris Agreement was symbolically signed on April 22, 2016, on a day internationally recognized as Earth Day.
The Development of Environmental Awareness Prior to the Paris Agreement
Awareness of the negative impact of humans and their activities on the climate has been developing since the middle of the last century. However, the birth of environmental awareness did not keep pace with adequate environmental activities. In other words, previous agreements did not produce the expected effects.
The ecological awakening occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the idea was born that environmental policy must be conducted at the international community level. The 1990s marked the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. This international agreement was aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was a significant step forward in terms of environmental policy. However, initial enthusiasm was soon replaced by concerns and the idea that the international community was facing a huge environmental challenge.
The Failure of the Kyoto Protocol and New Challenges
The Kyoto Protocol failed to produce the expected results. On the contrary, the final assessment of many states signalized the obvious failure. The shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol were reflected in the fact that the largest number of measures were understood as recommendation. The Kyoto Protocol did not imply the application of specific sanctions, nor was it bounding for the developing countries. The results were assessed as disastrous, even dramatic. The developed countries failed to make enough environmental efforts. On the other hand, the developing countries increased gas emissions. Despite all this, the environmental alarm suddenly began to turn red and became a signaling, warning lamp for all of us. The world has taken a step towards shedding light on the seriousness of environmental challenges. If we were to symbolically explain this situation, we would say that the planet has no time to wait.
The Paris Agreement – New, Future-Oriented Hope
The Paris Agreement is the first international environmental-related agreement binding on all states that have ratified it. Its main goal is to limit the increase in average global temperature below 2°C until the end of the century. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the 195 countries signatories to this Agreement.
The Paris Agreement encompasses a number of strategies, plans and solutions. The focus is on biodiversity conservation, de-carbonized economy, renewable resources and sustainable development. Special emphasis is placed on individual national strategies and plans. Countries are independent creators of environmental policies and are obliged to present a national plan every five years. It insists on the absence of external pressures and constant improvement of tools and strategies. In this regard, the countries submit their reports in order for the outcomes of the above actions to be compared, the positive effects to be observed and the future actions to be improved. Although there is no pressure on countries regardless of their economic status, rich countries are encouraged to fund environmental projects and concrete ventures in less developed countries. The focus is also on encouraging all signatory countries to switch to renewable energy sources.
Are we, finally, on the verge of success?
Although this is not the first agreement aimed at changing environmental directions, reduction of pollution and adverse climate effects, the Paris Agreement is a turning point and serves as a basis for moderate optimism. Despite the fact that concrete sanctions do not exist for the countries that have partially deviated from the establish environmental course, the largest hope is in the fact that some results have been achieved and specific activities have gained results. The main question is: are we aware enough of the emergency climate situation and are we, as countries, responding fast enough? The focus continues to be on green surfaces, forestation, introduction of electric vehicles, green industry and renewable resources. A lot of hope is places on environmental movements and organizations, reduced use of plastic and raising awareness among local communities and individuals. However, we are aware that globally the world is still moving towards warming above 2°C by the end of this century, which is not a good forecast.
National plans are enthusiastic, and environmental movements and organizations are becoming more visible on the political agenda. It remains to be seen whether mere theory will yield the expected practical results in an era in which ecological gambling should not exist. Some would say that it is “time to change the time”, and time is the resource that we lack the most in the struggle to protect environment.