Realism in tackling climate change

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Last week's climate summit and marches has indicated optimistic realism in tackling climate change

Last week, many of the world’s major cities played host to marches against climate change, coinciding with the climate summit at the UN headquarters in New York. While Britain reaffirmed their commitment to tackling climate change, many were left disappointed by a lack of new action taken by David Cameron.

In New York, more than 300,000 marched through the streets of Manhattan, ahead of the climate summit at the UN headquarters in Manhattan which was attended by 125 heads of state and government.

Marches took place across 200,000 locations in the world, including in London where around 40,000 joined in to walk across the capital. This included Emma Thompson, who gave an impassioned speech.

Ban ki-moon, general secretary of the UN, attended the march. He invited leaders to the summit to make public their contributions to help tackle the problem of climate change.

The meeting attempted to encourage political momentum towards a universal climate agreement to be signed by all nations, by the end of 2015.

One of the most successful outcomes of the summit was Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli pledge to reduce China’s carbon emissions.

He told the summit that by 2020, China will aim to reduce its emissions of carbon per unit of GDP by 45 percent compared to levels in 2005.

It is the first time China has said it is willing to act to reduce carbon emissions. The Vice-Premier also said that China will double it’s annual financial contributions to help south-south co-operation on climate change. This will aid developing countries in reducing their negative impact on the environment.

Whilst China’s contribution marks a step forward in tackling climate change, it is one that is desperately needed for any progress to be made. Currently it is predicted that China contributes 30 percent of the worlds carbon emissions.

In his speech, President Obama goaded China, as one of the world’s leading nations, into taking responsibility.

While David Cameron, representing the UK, urged a global agreement in Paris, Britain failed to join Germany and France in pledging large amounts to the Green Climate Fund.

While he reaffirmed his pledge to lead the greenest government ever, little direct action was indicated during his speech, although he did state that Britain was on track to cut greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

The positive attitude demonstrated at the marches suggest an optimism towards the changes that can be brought about.

Margaret Welsh, who attended the march in London said that there was a “carnival-esque” atmosphere. Those who attended were “cheerful” about the change that the march could help bring about.

While some will be doubtful about the level of change that the marches can bring about, a greater number attended the marches across the world, indicating that the negative effects on the environment are leading more and more people to act.

The marches and summit brought a more realistic tone to the environmental problem. Since the failure of the 2009 meeting in Copenhagen to bring about change, hopes have been low.

In his speech, Mr Obama recognised the opposition that will be faced in cutting carbon emissions. However his realism and willingness to take action to bring about change, may well lead to action being taken towards change.

2015 will highlight the real effect of last week’s summit. What has been shown is that more people are looking for more ways in which government’s can instigate changes to tackle the burgeoning problem of climate change.