Why the U.S. Needs to Sign the Paris Climate Deal

By Kate Barton

Since November, environmental talks have been carried out in Paris with the goal to become completely independent of fossil fuels and restrict temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. 196 countries have already agreed to the climate deal, but so far the U.S. is not one of them. The UN chief has expressed the desire for world leader to sign the agreement on April 22. Obama has praised the agreement and said “this agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is fully committed to a low-carbon future.”

Despite the majority of world support, there is opposition. Opponents have concerns such as no real punishment for countries who do not follow the plan, which ties in to the lack of the UN ability to enforce the deal. However, it should be understood that just because the this deal may not be the final solution, it is an important step in the right direction. This deal shows that many countries are concerned and willing to combat climate change. Which is the way it should happen, because climate change has the promise to be devastating and deadly.

The reason the goal is to stay below about a 2 degree Celsius increase is because that is the estimated temperature that, when surpassed, may produce nightmarish events such as major storms, flooding, droughts, widespread water and food shortages, and more, such as the loss of habitat and possible extinction of many arctic species. It is difficult for many to imagine a world without fossil fuels, but humans have survived without them in the past, and it is becoming increasingly pertinent that we do the same again. If everyone supported reform and gave up some luxuries, it would be possible to greatly decrease our abuse of fossil fuels. It is also important to realize that even if we did nothing to wean ourselves off of our addiction, fossil fuels will run out. And then we’ll have to adjust the hard way.

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