In November, representatives from over 200 countries are gathering in Marrakech, Morocco to discuss ways to curb greenhouse emissions and limit global warming to under two degrees Celsius. The conference is spurred on by the ratification of a 13-page environmental agreement called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by 111 countries so far. The deal outlines numerous environmental preservation goals and the conference in Morocco is the first step towards reaching these goals.
The aims of the conference are simple: find ways to reduce greenhouse gasses and decrease global warming. Actually reaching these goals, however, will prove to be more of a challenge, especially when each country has a different point of view on what’s best. Part of the time in Morocco will be allotted to trying to simplify that process, outlining guidelines for how to turn the collective dream into reality. Countries will be engaged in deliberation for hours on end, working to find a process that suits all involved parties.
Despite the positive momentum, the countries face a tall order. At the bare minimum, 12 gigatons (equal to 12 billion tons) of carbon dioxide need to be saved for us to have anything lower than an annual global warming rate of 3.4 degrees Celsius. Each signatory country has vowed to remain diligent, reevaluating their emissions practices every five years. The United States is anticipated to reveal a new mid-century emissions goal at the conference as well. Even still, the goal will likely prove difficult to reach as temperatures are forecasted to continue being the hottest years on record globally. As a result, the world has already warmed by one degree Celsius. Furthermore, sea levels have risen by three millimeters since 1993, nearly double the normal rate since 1990. Things left unchanged show no signs of looking up. This makes an already arduous task even harder.
On the positive, the climate talks are a positive indicator to investors. By simply signing the agreement, countries and their governments displayed their interest in addressing climate change through environmentally friendly technologies. Environmental and new tech investors are watching with great curiosity to see how the implementation of the deal goes. The treaty itself has created a large amount of investment opportunity and if the talks go well, many countries could see substantial investments in clean energy on their soil in the next few years. This would be good for developing their local economies and infrastructure as well as reaching the goals of the treaty. On the other hand, many business could lose revenue due to new environmental regulations enacted as consequence of the talks. Business owners and investors alike watch the talks anxiously, as the policy decisions that come out of these talks will affect each of them in unique ways.
The climate talks happening now in Morocco are relevant to today’s world as well as our future. For this generation, they mark one of the last chances to curb a climate change epidemic spiraling out of control at an alarming rate. They stand with the potential to revamp entire developing economies as well as curbing the pace of global warming as a whole. Future generations will inherit the world in the shape that we leave it in, and these talks have one of the largest direct roles in shaping that world. The issues being discussed in Morocco this month do not concern only our generation but generations to come after us, and it is our duty to follow the talks closely.