Population Matters

United Nations climate conference in Peru

United Nations climate conference in Peru

The average global temperature over both land and ocean from January to Novemeber 2014 was the highest on record, according to the United States National and Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

One hundred and ninety-five nations have committed to finalising a new climate pact in Paris by the end of 2015. Officials from these nations are currently attending a key United Nations (UN) climate meeting in Lima, Peru, at which they intend to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the start of the conference, UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres said, “2014 is threatening to be the hottest year in history and emissions continue to rise — we need to act urgently.”

Power plant

The European Union (EU), the United States (US) and China have committed to reducing their carbon footprints. The targets the three have set are to be applauded, but continuing to campaign for and spread awareness about sustainable living practices is necessary.

One of the central issues being addressed at the meeting is how much developed countries should do to reduce their emissions in comparison to developing countries. Many citizens of developed countries will likley at least initially resist reducing their consumption and impact on the environment. These sensitive issues have already led to disagreements. EU delegates argue that mandatory carbon emissions cuts should be set for all countries, whereas the US wants individual countries to be free to adjust the scale and pace of reductions. Focusing on national carbon emission reductions is important, but considering what can be done locally is also necessary. How can we encourage people who have a very comfortable lifestyle to live a bit more moderately, including having a small family? How can we get people to understand and care about the impact they have on the global environment?

Even though issues related to the environment and sustainability present formidable challenges, each person can make a contribution to overcoming them. We for example can all call for our own national government to identify its plans for reducing emissions. We should also examine our own lifestyles and consider what we can do to reduce our impact.

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