On Tuesday in an important step toward combating climate change the Irish government decided to begin the process to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The Paris Agreement is a landmark treaty that could prove to be the significant turning point in our efforts to reduce global warming and its potentially grave impact on our environment.
The agreement, produced last December in Paris, is a big deal. It’s the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. It looks to limit global greenhouse emissions but goes way beyond any previous treaty as it enshrines transparency and accountability. It means the whole world is involved and the whole world is watching.
And it’s an agreement that couldn’t have come sooner for our oceans and seas.
The seas do a hell of a lot for us, supplying livelihoods for millions around the world and food that keeps whole nations fed. But among the less celebrated services they provides is the absorption of about a quarter of the CO² and more than 90% of the heat that builds up in the atmosphere as a direct result of our fondness to burn fossil fuels.
But using the atmosphere as a dumping ground is having an unsurprisingly dire impact on the marine environment.
The excess heat and CO² is altering established physical and chemical properties. In places, marine life is struggling to keep up with the pace of these changes. Impacts are already visible in bleached coral reefs seen around the world.
The success of the Paris Agreement, and our efforts to reduce CO² emission, will have a direct bearing on what kind of environment we and every other living thing on this planet must face in the future.
On Wednesday Minister Naughten said “Climate change is the defining challenge of our time and it is during our time that the obligation exists for us as a nation to take action…The wave of global momentum behind the ratification of the Paris Agreement has been unprecedented. It is our children’s future and of vital national interest.”
The next session of the ‘Conference of the Parties, COP22’ will be held in Marrakesh in November and it is expected the Irish government will have ratified the treaty by then.