The Paris Agreement is a landmark idea that countries reached in December 2015 to begin combating climate change. It has the goal of intensifying the actions and investments needed to create a sustainable low carbon future. It builds upon previous treaties and arrangements between a smaller number of participants to bring every country together in the common cause of saving our planet.
The goal of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen humanity’s response to the threats that climate change creates. Keeping a global temperature rise over the next century to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This agreement also works to improve a country’s ability to deal with the impacts of a changing climate by making financial goals more aligned with technology frameworks and resource mobilization.
It requires all parties to put forward their best efforts through a nationally determined contribution to strengthen the relationship.
Several Paris Agreement advantages and disadvantages are worth reviewing, especially since the United States withdrew from it in June 2017.
List of the Advantages of the Paris Agreement
1. It has almost universal support to start the fight against climate change.
Almost 200 countries and independent states have signed on to fight climate change through the text of the Paris Agreement. It is evident that the proof of climate change has become a top priority for most of the world. Although the United States is not currently part of that number, Americans were instrumental in the formation of the original document and part of the group that began to implement its ideas.
The countries that aren’t currently in this agreement feel like it is either not strong enough in its efforts to stop climate change or it’s a document that is too political.
2. The Paris Agreement will help to control the impact of global warming.
Although it doesn’t seem like a 2°C change in the global temperature would have a significant impact, this alteration will create more resources for us to use in the coming generations. If we were to allow worldwide warming trends to continue, then it would put more pressure on our water supplies and potentially decrease crop levels. Melting ice from the polar regions would potentially raise sea levels, flooding coastal communities and displacing potentially millions of households.
The reduction of greenhouse gases as required by the Paris Agreement puts us on a path toward preventing these disruptions in our ecosystem.
3. It will impact employment opportunities around the world.
When countries must comply with the terms outlined in the Paris Agreement, then it can create new job opportunities as clean energy resources become a bigger priority. The expansion of renewable energy because of this agreement has seen jobs in the solar industry alone increase by over 10 times in just the United States. New markets for wind, geothermal, and hydropower create the potential for an added $6 trillion in the economy by 2030.
4. It recognizes the fact that there is no safe level of warming.
The lower temperature limits encouraged by the Paris Agreement affirm the idea that there is no safe level of warming. If we hold the change to 1.5°C or less, then we might slow sea levels rising and prevent the loss of coastal communities like Shanghai, New Orleans, or Tuvalu, but it won’t necessarily remove all limits of harm. We have already warmed the earth about 1°C since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It may have triggered the irreversible loss of Antarctic glaciers and melting in Greenland.
How is this an advantage when there are so many negatives associated with it? Taking a step forward to trust in the data science provides means that we can progress toward useful solutions. Humanity is creative and adaptable.
5. No one can tackle the threat of global warming alone.
There isn’t a single country on this planet that can tackle the issue of global warming by itself. That’s why the almost unanimity of the Paris Agreement is such an advantage. The countries that provided commitments to it at the initial signing represented 97% of global emissions at the time. It is also notable that it was the first time that every critical emitter, including Mexico, Japan, China, India, and the United States, came together in a meaningful way to start reducing greenhouse gas releases.
6. An entry-level set of reporting structures are part of the agreement.
The Paris Agreement creates an enhanced transparency framework that uses common rule sets for developing and developed countries. The goal of this advantage is to strengthen the international system by requiring everyone to regularly report their national emission inventories every 24 months at the minimum.
It also requires that countries report information that’s necessary to track progress in the achievement of goals every two years. Each nation is subject to a technical expert review of the submitted reports by independent individuals and panels. Public sessions to consider progress are also part of the structure.
7. The Paris Agreement is an idea that a majority of people support.
Despite the fact that President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a majority of Americans still support the idea of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 87% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs support the principles of this accord. Even though it may require some lifestyle changes or transitions to a different energy, the goal is to create an economy that is cleaner and more energy-efficient.
If we can reduce the levels of pollution that manufacturing and industries create, then it is possible to recover the money from our renewables investments because we are spending less on health care needs related to our ecosystem.
8. It encourages other countries to invest in renewable energy.
China has plans to build a nationwide charging Network to support millions of electric cars. The spending on this project is expected to reach $360 billion by 2020 while creating over 13 million jobs. Additional investments come into American businesses because of the global activities created by this spending in the renewables sector. That’s why over 600 investors and companies issued a statement to the Trump administration urging the implementation of this accord.
The names on that letter include General Mills, Hewlett Packard, and DuPont.
9. The Paris Agreement reduces the likelihood of global warming property losses.
Failing to act on climate change issues has the global insurance industry on high alert. Deciding not to follow the outlines offered by the Paris Agreement implies a large financial risk that everyone must accept. USAA and Liberty Mutual both agree that not addressing the environmental issues exposes people to a higher risk of property and life loss, creating higher costs that the federal government and taxpayers would ultimately pay.
The Reinsurance Association of America has gone on record to say that addressing climate change is sound public policy. Investing in emissions reductions today could save everyone billions in the years to come.
10. It creates more competition for innovation, leading to improvements in emissions levels.
The Paris Agreement created an increase in ambition in provinces, states, and cities around the world. There is an intense desire to begin an acceleration of action against climate change. Commitments from local communities make it easier to secure national-level agreements faster. When cities take action to embrace renewable energy ideas, then it makes our urban areas healthier and more resilient.
The Under2 Coalition secured commitments at the local level to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. This agreement covers over 160 jurisdictions, representing $26 trillion in economic activity. That figure represents one-third of the global GDP.
11. The United States can encourage more responsible energy use.
The United States was responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions released worldwide from 1990 until 2012. At the same time, Americans accounted for less than 5% of the global population. The framework of the Paris Agreement allows the U.S. to work with the developed world to create more opportunities for climate finance so that the most vulnerable nations can receive the support they need.
Securing a reduction in emissions will reduce security threats abroad. Climate disruptions may lead to resource shortages that could inspire countries to go to war with one another. It may also lead to destabilizing impacts like mass migration, creating climate refugees that could put additional stressors on existing infrastructure.
12. It allows the developing world to bypass the fossil fuel economy.
The Paris Agreement allows us to shift the idea of who gets to burn fossil fuels to who should pay to stop using them. We have the option to help the developing world leapfrog to renewable energy in the same way that Africa went straight to mobile phones instead of using landlines. That means we can bypass many of the expected issues that exist with carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases because we’re creating a rising tide that lifts all boats.
List of the Disadvantages of the Paris Agreement
1. It creates different sets of rules for each country in the agreement.
The Paris agreement creates a structure where different sets of rules apply to each country. This disadvantage even impacts nations that would fall under a “developed” classification. When India and China signed onto this pact, they were not forced to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the same way that the United States was required to operate.
Under the guidelines of the program outlined in this agreement, each country can independently decide how to reduce its emissions profile. Additional aspects of this accord aren’t binding either, which means there isn’t a concrete way to make sure enforcement happens.
2. It will impact employment opportunities around the world.
The transition away from fossil fuels isn’t problematic for the developed world because the infrastructure for renewable energy is already in place. The Paris Agreement creates a significant issue in today’s emerging markets because some countries are only now going through their version of the Industrial Revolution. Reducing the use of coal, natural gas, and crude oil might help the planet, but it comes at a substantial cost for many households.
This disadvantage is the primary reason that President Donald Trump gave for the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement in 2017.
3. The emissions gap after 2030 is massive.
If you think that the emissions gap is big now, then wait until you see what is possible when 2030 comes along. Even if we were to stop producing problematic greenhouse gases in their entirety right now, global warming issues would still continue.
It helps to think of our atmosphere as a large bathtub. If you pour water into it faster than the drain can remove it, then you will eventually flood the bathroom. Stopping the production of carbon and methane Will not balance the flows.
4. We don’t know how much carbon needs to get cut to produce results.
The outcome from the Paris Agreement suggests that we will have a 1°C change in our climate by 2100 when compared to what it would be if we don’t put any controls on greenhouse gas emissions. Our only problem here is that we don’t really know how much to cut, where to cut it, or why some industries need to work on this issue and others do not.
If we have any chance of limiting global warming to 2°C as indicated by this agreement, then worldwide emissions must essentially fall to zero right now so that we have a fighting chance to generate a result. Because China didn’t pledge to capture omissions until at least 2030, we don’t really have a chance to achieve positive outcomes. India says that it plans to increase its emissions significantly up until 2030.
5. The cost of the Paris Agreement is massive.
The UN Green Climate Fund started in 2010 because of negotiations that took place in Cancun, Mexico. It wants to raise $100 billion per year by the end of 2020, although some estimates say that it must raise $450 billion annually to have an impact on global change. The Obama administration pledged $3 billion to the Paris Agreement, and annual future contributions would continue increasing.
The organization that spends these funds operates without accountability or transparency. The Cato Institute refers to the Green Climate Fund as the “slush fund for global dictators.” Anyone staying in the agreement is contributing to this issue.
6. It would cause the price of energy to rise.
The Paris Agreement would require the implementation of domestic policy changes in each country that ratifies it. That means changes like the proposed Clean Power Plan become necessary worldwide, creating significant pricing changes for oil, natural gas, and coal. The extra money would then subsidize the renewables industry. Consumers would see the impact of this disadvantage with the goods and services they pay, and the fuel purchased for their vehicles.
Although the Paris Agreement doesn’t require the implementation of a cap and trade system for carbon, the economic impact on the average person would be massive.
7. The Paris Agreement would shift the balance of manufacturing.
China receives the bulk of manufacturing orders today because it provides cheaper labor. It is working on coal and nuclear energy resources to make the work even more competitive with American processes and European demand. One of the key advantages that the United States has in the sector is an abundance of affordable energy. Following the recommendations of the Paris Agreement would negate this benefit.
The global economy is intensely competitive. The abundance of reliable and affordable energy in the United States creates an international framework that benefits everyone. If Americans have the brunt of the emissions cuts that must occur without any accountability to China or India, then the Paris Agreement shifts where the emissions occur and nothing more.
8. The reported information on emissions reduction may not be verifiable.
The Paris Agreement might require specific reporting procedures, but it does not preclude the idea that double-counting activities or dubious claims could be part of the two-year reporting period. Questionable accounting in this space is already problematic, with the developing world sometimes using controversial emissions reductions from land-use changes or forest preservation to meet their desired goals.
This disadvantage also sees the European Union ignoring the entire lifecycle of emissions from biofuels. When there is so much on the line for everyone, the lack of defined boundaries often negates the benefits that we could achieve with a reduction of emissions.
Although President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement in 2017, the impact of this accord is still enforceable according to the rules implemented several years ago. It will not be until 2020 when Americans are no longer held to account on the stipulations of this agreement.
If a Democratic challenger or third-party candidate defeats President Trump in that election, then there is an excellent chance that the United States will re-join the Paris Agreement.
When nations want to be global leaders, the definition of a superpower is changing. Instead of focusing on mutual defense and military capacity, today’s wealthiest countries are being asked to do something about the environment. Although that means paying up to $2 billion per year to help others meet their obligations for some, it could be an investment in our future that’s worth making.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.