Climate Change Talks in Paris

United Nations Conference on Climate Change Paris Talks

After the worldwide demonstration that took place around the world ahead the Paris Climate Talks, it became evident that the world is watching and demanding action for a more sustainable future. The worldwide march labelled ‘No Planet B’ that had over half a million protesters from all over the world campaigning to save the world from ever increasing sea levels, temperature, droughts and natural disasters. With over 2000 events organized, it could be the biggest truly global march in history.

World leaders will converge on Paris to begin the heated debates where they will hope the cool heads prevail to ensure that real change is agreed and that the contracts are binding. However it seems that there is no planned ‘Carbon Budget’, meaning that countries will all propose their own separate ideas.

This isn’t the first time that the UN has come together for climate talks. The Kyoto Protocol back in 1997 was the first talks that resulted in nations becoming unified to reduce their carbon emissions, however, the United States and China abstained, whilst the developing nations didn’t take part. Then the treaty of Copenhagen in 2009 which did little but become a voluntary option. We also know that the Paris Talks are not going to be a legally binding treaty, rather, the powerful nations will pressure the smaller nations into making changes.

Will it be any different this time around?
While the United States and China seem to have already announced their emissions reduction plans. The US aims to cut emissions by 28 percent (based on the levels carbon emissions of 2005), while China will go a different route of requiring industries to obtain government permits to have the right to emit greenhouse gases, with reductions planned to start happening by the year 2030.

What do the changes mean for the Ocean?
As of yet it is still unknown what the rise in temperature will ultimately mean for our seas however the current major issues are the acidification of the seas and the increase in water temperature. They both play a role in damaging the food cycle due to plankton and krill not being able to adapt at the same rate as the climate.

One example of acidification can be seen in creatures that require the alkaline sea water to produce their shells which contain calcium carbonate. As the water temperature becomes slightly less alkaline due to the carbon dioxide dissolving into the sea, the amount of calcium available gets sparser.

Pteropod affected by acidification of oceans
The top pteropod show a healthy shell while below the shell is slightly dissolved and shows abrasions. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The pteropod otherwise known as a sea butterfly, are prey for both whales and salmon. Their shell has already seen damage to acidification of seas. As more carbon dioxide is absorbed by the sea, the acidification process can only get worse and put other seafood at risk.

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