World leaders are convening in Paris this week for COP21, the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, in hopes of reaching an agreement on how to slow global warming. Although momentum toward clean energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions has increased around the world, a real shift will require more coordination, better-enforced legal frameworks and a renewed focus on innovation.
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What’s at Stake in Paris?
From managing security measures following the Paris attacks of Nov. 13 to pursuing an international agreement on climate change, French President Francois Hollande must become a “master of compromise as much as a master of war,” wrote Richard Gowan on Nov. 30.
New rules on carbon emissions will keep the U.S. on track to meet its 2017 emissions commitment, wrote Neil Bhatiya in August, giving a boost to the Paris climate change talks. But though they get less attention than emissions targets, issues of monitoring and follow-up will be as important to the talks’ success.
The Green Climate Fund, backed by $10.2 billion in pledges from developed nations, will help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. But, Neil Bhatiya wrote in June, the fund has come under attack in the United States by conservatives in Congress with a narrow view of climate change and its impact on national security.
The Global Push for Clean Energy
The United States and China surprised other G-20 members when they announced a new agreement in November on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. But the G-20 member perhaps most taken off guard was India, currently the world’s fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter.
Following the COP20 conference in Lima last December, David Dudenhoefer argued that the agreement reached among 196 nations was an important step. Momentum for change in Latin America is particularly strong, even though the region contributes less than 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In January, Johanna Mendelson Forman told WPR that although Latin America has the “greenest energy matrix in the world,” many rural regions lack access. Meanwhile, progress that has been accomplished is being undercut by lack of integration and insufficient regulatory frameworks.
With its abundance of wind, solar and geothermal resources, Mexico’s renewable energy industry should be thriving, Alexis Arthur wrote last December. But despite some progress, Mexico is not on track to meet its goals, and must increase investment in renewable energy, along with expanding transmission infrastructure.
In April, President Obama announced $20 million in financing for private investment in Caribbean clean energy products. Johanna Mendelson Forman argued that the move came at a good time: After a lost decade when easy access to cheap Venezuelan oil undermined incentives to seek alternative sources, the Caribbean now faces deferred decisions on how it buys and uses energy.