During the last moments of 2015, the 21st Conference of Parties took place in Paris and drew in more than 200 nations to discuss the increasing concerns about climate change. The conversations resulted in all of the nations agreeing to a program that aims to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial era temperatures, according to CNN. However, the United States cannot do its part in curbing climate change without help from its citizens.
Details on the agreement
The latest agreement to come out of COP21 is similar to the Kyoto Protocol that resulted from COP3, according to the event's website. The Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing carbon emissions in first world countries by applying taxes on cars and other carbon emitters. This latest agreement will be a global, non-committal effort to reduce the effects of man-kind on the environment by reducing a country's emissions. The difference between the two is small but substantial, as key developing nations have now recognized their part in continuing global warming.
"The Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis," President Barack Obama said, speaking from the White House. "It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way."
The agreement at COP21 will rely mainly on self reporting by countries, and therefore will not require compliance. It will be difficult to enforce, but should the major carbon emission producers such as the U.S., China, India and Brazil be able to curb their emissions, then it will be a success. It is also drawing some criticism because certain issues were left unaddressed, such as how the improvements will be made or enforced, but it shows that every participating country currently understands the problem at hand.
How citizens can their part
The switch from non-renewable to renewable resources has already been underway. Oil prices are falling to record lows because demand has dropped substantially and automakers are providing the public with more energy efficient cars, according to the New York Times.
One avenue that homeowners can take to reduce their carbon emissions is by installing solar panels on top of their homes to produce renewable energy and start moving away from carbon emitting resources. Solar panels are becoming cheaper every year and some states offer government sponsored loans with fixed interest rates to help homeowners finance the installation. A select number of companies offer hybrid financing, which allows flexibility in payments.
While the most recent climate agreement remains a hot topic in international conversations, it means little to the world without citizens doing their part.