What Is The Paris Agreement?

Categories Climate Change
Paris Agreement

When that brat in your neighbourhood won’t behave

On May 31st, 2017, United States President Donald Trump pulled the nation out from the Paris Agreement. He announced the country will stay out of the climate accord. This disturbing turn of event quickly made headlines of mainstream medias across the globe. I remember being caught off guard and left in dismay by the news myself. (Did you feel the same way as I did? Let me know in comments below!)

At this point, you might ask a very sensible question. Why should you care about the Paris Agreement?

Short Answer: Because ours and our next generation’s survival depend on it. (Google Climate Refugee)

Climate Refugee? Seriously? We are in Malaysia here!

The general consensus among the scientific community is that we have to keep the increase in global temperature within 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial times by 2050. Because that is the threshold level of what our Earth can support our pollution. Any point beyond that and the damage will be irreversible. It’s all the way down to hell. AND we have a little more than 30 years left to make things right.

With so many things at stake, you would think the world government is doing something about it now. Granted, there is some movement. But the progress is limited. One of the major outcomes is the Paris Agreement but even that yields very few significant results (Read on why below). Just so we understand where we are now, according to numerical resources, we are well en route projecting toward 6.3 degree Celsius increase in temperature by 2050! That is 3 fold of the Worse Case Scenario proposed by the scientific community!

2 Degree Celsius of Warming = 6 Meters Sea Level Rise. 6.3 Degree Celsius of Warming? (Source: climatecentral.org)


3 millions Malaysians are expect to be affected by 2050. (credit: climatecentral.org)

2 Degree Celsius

It was exactly the “2 Degree Celsius” warning that brought leaders of (nearly) all nations together. The Paris Agreement was then signed in April 2016. This marked the first time in history world leaders from nearly 200 countries finally spoke in a unified voice to tackle climate change. Malaysia included. In the agreement, participating nations took pledge to do their part in supporting green transition back at home.

Despite the seemingly massive victory for Earth in history, you will notice the agreement is widely criticized. Unlike trade agreement in World Trade Organization (WTO) where failure to comply would land the government in trade court and often imposed harsh penalties, the commitments in Paris Agreement were based solely on honour system with weak and nonthreatening punishments. This is because the participating nations in the Paris Agreement were only required to take nonbinding pledges!

So can we trust the leaders of nation based solely on an honour system? Consider the fact that the first United Nations summit on sustainable development was held as early as 1972. And the fact that four decades later our world leaders are still negotiating over the very planet we are inhabiting. Well, you tell me. One thing we can count on, however, is our leaders will do what our vote tell them to. (For real example of making the right voice in voting, read: Our Chosen Reality: Traffic Congestion in Malaysia)

Gauging the balance between economic growth and sustainable environment is a delicate task but it doesn’t means we shouldn’t do it. It’s not just about moral or our obligation to Nature anymore, it’s about our very survival.

Just Remember.

Target: 2⁰C ; Current: 6.3⁰C

Year: 2050

Tick tock.


Do you agree with my article? What is your take on the Paris Agreement? Comment below, let me know!