The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) is over in Paris. It may be the largest and most significant climate conference ever, involving 195 countries. Of these 175 – representing 94% of the world’s people and 93% of their greenhouse gas emissions – have submitted climate action plans describing how they propose to reduce their emissions. The bad news is that there is no way to enforce those plans, and even if there were, their total reduction is inadequate to keep the global average temperature from rising more than 2° C above when we started burning fossil fuels – a red line the nations have agreed should not be crossed. (The global average is already up 1° C, and some low-lying nations have proposed a 1.5° C limit.) There is a provision that countries should report their progress toward their targets, and review them every 5 years to see if they can be tightened. The hope is that once reductions get seriously underway, nations will step up to the plate and commit to do more, with a framework in place to do it.
My message is that we all need to get away from depending on the U.N., or the federal government, or anyone else to save a livable planet for our children and grandchildren. We must assume that responsibility ourselves – by reducing energy use in our own homes and church, becoming informed, and insisting that our political leaders defend and protect our beautiful blue boat home. Our time has come.
Chad Tolman, Co-Chair New Castle County Congregations of DE Interfaith Power and Light Nov. 14, 2015