The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commences today, the 30th of November and runs until 11th of December in Paris, France. Negotiators from 196 Parties (countries that have ratified the convention) are expected to conclude four years of negotiation with the first global climate agreement since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed in 1997.
Climate Change, understood to be the significant changes to the climate (including temperature, wind and rainfall) due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels, is the greatest environmental challenge the world faces today. Climate change intensifies poverty, food insecurity and water scarcity - affecting those in vulnerable circumstances the most and exacerbating existing inequalities. This is one of the greatest injustices of our time.
Recent scientific data from the UK Met Office shows that 2015 is likely to be the warmest year on record - it is imperative that the global community comes together now to heed the warnings of science and preserve the world for all of us. They must set the goal of reaching zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century and keeping the possibility of stabilizing global warming below 1.5oC alive.
Global warming exceeding 1.5oC poses a threat to the very existence of some of the world’s most vulnerable countries - it is vital that this goal is prioritized. From a climate justice perspective, whether the final agreement protects the rights of the most vulnerable will be a key measure of its success.