On December 12, 2015, representatives from 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, an international treaty to limit global warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. This climate accord became effective on November 4, 2016, marking an outstanding moment when all recognized nations shared a common cause and declared their commitment to saving the planet.
Well, it did seem like it. In the long run, greenhouse gas emissions are still significantly higher than what is needed to limit the catastrophes brought by climate change. The New Climate War author Dr. Michael Mann said in a CNN interview, “at the current rate people are burning fossil fuel, we will reach pre-industrial CO2 levels in just a few decades.” But we cannot just stop burning fossil fuels since billions of people rely on them for energy and livelihood. Also, countries try to save their economies from the problems brought by the pandemic.
In India, multiple coal mines opened as investors spend $16.6 billion on coal-related industries. But the people who live and depend on the forests for their livelihood protested with all their might, seeing the destruction brought by coal mining compared to the development promised to them.
Another example of a country depending on coal mining in Australia. The sector provides benefits and stability, making it more appealing to the younger generation. Coal is a job opportunity, and when the pandemic hit, the Queensland government was quick to help the industry. But although they boast that Australia’s black coal is “a little bit cleaner,” it still produces higher emissions than other fossil fuels. The country is looking forward to increasing its production by opening new mines and investing in opening a new coal-fired power plant.
The world saw a glimpse of hope, like seeing clear blue skies and having fresh air in cities usually filled with smoke. But as countries try to operate, the world may never have the chance to get out of this climate crisis. It is difficult to let go of things that provide a sense of security—we do see that. But in the end, we need to make the right choice—to focus on the present or strive for a better future.