Described by NPR as a mission to produce “a short simple agreement–maybe a dozen pages–that will satisfy nearly 200 nations”, the U.N. Climate Change conference , a two-week convention of world leaders on the subject, has just kicked off only a few weeks after the terrorist attacks in the same city. The conference has been framed in controversy even before it started, as 200 citizens were arrested in Paris during climate change protests. The state of emergency in the city since the terrorist attacks prohibits open public assemblies regardless of the reasons for them.
The talks, which officially started Monday and run through December 11th, are already being treated by some media outlets with more optimism then previous climate talks in the last decade. NPR has said of the independent plans world leaders have submitted before the conference, “Independent experts have calculated that if the world is currently on track for warming of about 4.5 degrees Celsius, these pledges would reduce that to about 2.7 to 3.7 degrees — which is real progress, before the Paris summit even starts.”
But there’s plenty of healthy skepticism to go around, too. Many are arguing that unless something changes, these talks may fall far short of producing the kind of consensus needed to begin the reversal of exponentially increasing global warming trends. Fivethrityeight.com has already noted that “Of the 183 countries [who have submitted plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions], only two — Ethiopia and Morocco — have plans that Climate Action Tracker (a consortium of research organizations) rated as “sufficient” to meet climate goals.” The U.N. itself has even stated out of desperation that these talks are one of the last chances the world has to deal with climate change.
Still, the consensus at this point, that these talks will be different, meaningful even, is growing. This conference is seeing more international media focus then any similar climate meeting before. The fact that virtually every government on the planet has submitted plans for the reduction of greenhouse emissions before the conference has even started is alone a huge step forward. Even the Vatican has commented on how important the Paris conference is to the future of the planet. There are still scores of things that could go wrong; Murphy’s Law is not affected in any way by climate change. But the level of goodwill among governments and people going in to this conference is unprecedented. DSW will be covering the talks as they go ward from now through December 11th.