In September 2013, UN climate scientists released a report stating that human activity is the main cause of global warming. To avoid ‘dangerous’ warming of over 2°C, we must dramatically cut our greenhouse gas emissions before 2020. However, the window of opportunity is narrowing fast.
Fast-forward to April 2015, and a panel of diplomats, scientists and policy makers met with an audience of 200 people to discuss the challenges ahead. At ‘The Road to Paris’, an Edinburgh International Science Festival event at the National Museum of Scotland, the speakers discussed the implications of climate change for us all, and cast their thoughts ahead to this December, when policy makers from around the world will meet in Paris in an attempt to confront the climate problem.
The upcoming UN conference will be one of the largest climate conferences ever held. Delegates from 196 countries will agree to a set of legally binding commitments to tackle climate change and drive the transition towards low-carbon societies. As explained by Pierre-Alain Coffinier (French Consul General to Scotland) at The Road to Paris, the top diplomatic priorities will be mitigation (setting CO2 emission limits), and adaptation (reducing our vulnerability to climate change). Either one alone will not be enough.
So with the safety and prosperity of future generations pinned on the success of the Paris conference, what hope is there that delegates will secure an effective deal? According to climate scientist Prof Corinne Le Quéré, an effective deal for policy makers is not the same as an effective deal for the climate, but at least we’re still within the window of opportunity – so it’s not yet too late. This flicker of optimism was shared by MSP Dr Aileen McLeod, who avowed that Scotland would pave the way towards a reliable, low-carbon energy future.
The UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris from November 30 until December 11 2015. You can follow updates on social media using #COP21.