Paris Climate Treaty

Although a few stragglers are still making heedless attempts to deny it, climate change is real, and it is already impacting our world.

While we may not necessarily see the effects of climate change in Cedar Rapids, the effects of climate change have already been charted in some less-developed nations. Flooding in particular has led to deaths and a significant increase in the number of refugees.

According to a 2009 report by the Global Humanitarian Forum, climate change has already cost the world more than $125 billion in economic losses per year, along with over 300,000 deaths. Considering that this report was written six years ago, it is extremely likely that these statistics have risen even more.

Many nations have expressed their concern over these growing numbers, but it wasn’t until recently that a plan was officially set in place to offset these negative changes.

From 30 November to 12 December 2015, 196 nations met in Paris with the goal of forming the first universal agreement on climate.

While an agreement was made, many political figures are questioning the potential lack of an impact. The agreement does not penalize any countries who do not meet the goals, and the goals themselves are voluntarily set. Nations that ratify the treaty, as the United Nations secretary general, Janos Pasztor pointed out, are merely utilizing a “name and shame” system.

In other words, the only consequence of ignoring the treaty is the negative reputation that the nation will develop. By relying on the concept of maintaining relationships with other countries rather than legal penalties, it is unlikely that a majority of the ratifying nations will comply with the regulations. In this system it is simply too easy to overstep boundaries, set regulations too low, and ignore protests of other countries.

Without the involvement of legal guidelines and penalties for the treaty, it is useless. Even if the United States and some of our allies obeyed all of the emission plateaus that they set, every nation that ratified the treaty would need to do the same. Without legal penalties, this will not happen.

Even Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that the treaty will not necessarily accomplish a reduction in emissions.

“The fact is that even if every American citizen biked to work, carpooled to school, used only solar panels to power their homes, if we each planted a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what – that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world,” said Kerry.

Considering that it is estimated that the deal will cost the world $165 billion, it seems odd that it may not even accomplish what it is supposed to.


Presidential candidates Marco Rubio, and John Kasich are the only Republican candidates to comment on the treaty.

It’s all for show. I mean, the whole thing is for show. Number one, as you said, they’re not binding,” he said. “Number two, the administration has committed the United States to certain caps, but hasn’t told us how they’re going to do it, which obviously means they’re going to have more of these sort of regulations, at least that’s what they intend,” said Rubio.

All three of the Democratic candidates have expressed their support for the treaty.