Students and community members met at the Keene State College Student Center in the Mountain View Room on Thursday to hear environmental expert Paul Morgan talk about environmental issues around the world.
The UNFCCC is in charge of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous interference with the climate system, according to Morgan.
Morgan said that The Paris Agreement had the largest number of participants in UNFCCC history, with 30,372 people who attended. This included 20,000 government officials, 2,000 intergovernmental organizations, more than 6,000 representatives from NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] and the media. Morgan also specified that the Paris Agreement had the largest number of heads of state under one roof in world history.
Environmental Studies Professor at KSC Renate Gebauer introduced Morgan to the audience as the first speaker of the Environmental Lecture Series.
Gebauer said, “As part of his [Morgan], not just his interest, his passion for the climate change and the environment, he has been two times at the UN talks. He went to Lima and Paris.”
Morgan began, “My thesis is basically, we had an agreement because the facts on the grounds said it’s time to have one. We cannot easily deny climate change now. There has been enough movement and business in civil society. Everybody is expecting an agreement,” Morgan said.
The Paris Agreement was held on December of 2015 under the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in Paris, France where 195 countries took global action to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C by 2025 according to the European Commission website.
Morgan explained the Paris Agreement as “a formal recognition that it was time to do something about climate change. So all the nations in the world came to Paris in December of 2015 and we had an agreement.”
Morgan told the audience certain issues the world is currently facing regarding the environment.
“What’s the problem? Energy, transportation, deforestation, all of these kinds of things of course, are putting things into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, it’s been going on since the industrial revolution,” Morgan said.
According to Morgan, carbon increases the temperature of the earth, and recent data and direct research suggests that the earth’s temperature has been rising for a long time.
Morgan mentioned that 2015 was the hottest year in world history and that Miami, Florida is the most vulnerable to rises in sea level in the United States.
According to Morgan, the U.S. and China are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.
Morgan said, “The U.S. and China together account for forty percent of global admissions. The U.S. promised by 2025 to reduce emissions twenty-six to twenty-eight percent. [Officials in] China said that they would go to renewables by 2030. This was essential because you’re not going to have other countries be ambitious in pursuing a climate agreement.”
Morgan explained where environmental issues come from.
Morgan said, “In 2014, there was a report. Many had been issued by the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], but not all of them. First one came out in January of 2014, the sort of physical science basis where they come out and say that it is more than ninety-five percent likely that humans are causing this.”
According to Morgan, the IPCC not only conducts environmental research, but also aggregates, synthesizes and interprets messages on what the world scientists are saying about climate change.
Morgan revealed that the report also stated that while scientific research proves that climate change is happening now, no one is paying attention to it.
In order to fund such an important world project, Morgan pointed out that the Green Climate Fund was established in 2013 with the goal of raising $100 billion per year by 2020 and giving it to poor countries. Morgan mentioned that the U.S. has already pledged $3 billion.
Morgan said, “The Green Climate Fund was the sticking point because a poor country can pledge to do something, but if they’re burning coal right now for electricity generation, we want them to move to renewables, who’s going to finance that?”
Even before Morgan reached Paris, he said that nearly every country in the world had submitted a pledge to limit global warming.
Morgan said, “An agreement is the first step. It is the first step and it might be a baby step, but it’s a step that everybody on the planet took.”
One student commented on Morgan’s lecture.
KSC sophomore and Environmental Studies major Garrett Hopkins said, “He brought up some very good points. I didn’t know about the COP and really what that was all about so it was interesting to learn what they were and what actually happened to lead up to the Paris Agreement and the Paris Agreement itself.”
Hopkins mentioned what he believes is the biggest environmental issue. “CO2 emissions and fossil fuel branding which is the biggest problem. The U.S. is the leading factor in that and China.”
KSC sophomore Matthew Cote gave his opinion about the Paris Agreement and the goal of limiting global temperatures.
“I hope we can meet that goal, but we have to do a lot of things, change a lot of things and meet a lot of goals that they have been discussing in the Paris Agreement,” Cole said.
According to the European Commission website, the Paris Agreement is due to be enforced in 2020.
Jacob Knehr can be contacted at email@example.com