Leaders from 195 countries are meeting in Morocco to discuss how to address environmental problems, climate change and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations climate change conference began on Monday (7 November) and it will continue until 18 November. The conference is the first major gathering of the world leaders on climate since last December’s conference in Paris, which saw the climate change agreement passed.
The main stated goal of the Paris agreement is to prevent catastrophic warming of the earth by “[holding] the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees [Celsius] above pre-industrial levels.” In order to meet this goal, each country that has signed on the deal has already handed in a national plan for how to curb greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the US plan has pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions across the country by 26 percent to 28 percent in 2025. India, in contrast, is planning to generate 40 percent of its electricity with non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. The Chinese government has also signed onto the deal, promising that its emissions will peak in 2030 and then decline.
Despite the national plans, there are questions about how the countries will be accountable for their promises and how they will pay for the initiatives described in their plans. The timing of the presidential election in the United States is also another defining factor. John Morton, the Director for Energy and Climate Change for the National Security Council, nevertheless said at a State Department briefing last week that “what we have seen in recent months and, in fact, in recent years is a recognized inevitability of the transition to a low-carbon economy. And so the international community – the international business community, the international policy community – is moving forward and will continue to move forward.”