MES Students investigate the Challenges faced by Denver regarding climate change Podcast 2


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On December 12, 2015, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) meeting in Paris, France, 180 countries and the European Union, representing over 98% of total global emissions, made unprecedented progress on an agreement to limit global climate change. Together, leaders from around the world agreed to curb carbon emissions in a concerted effort to reduce global temperature to 2C over pre-industrial levels (with a preference to limit warming to 1.5C), beginning by 2020. Supporters point to the strengths of the agreement: the shift from centralized targets and timetables to national pledges that are refined over time; the flexible geometry of these pledges; and, the potential for national collaboration. Critics assert that the agreement is insufficient, suggesting that: meeting the 2C goal will not save the global community from many of the impending effects of climate change; concentrating only on atmospheric temperature as an indicator ignores other relevant environmental and social impacts; and, collective agreement will not necessarily result in individual action. Both sides share questions about functionally measuring and reporting on progress, and the legal constraints of the agreement. Yet, despite lingering uncertainty, each of the 180+ countries, including the US agreed that they must take action to protect the environment, and society, from the most deleterious effects of climate change. Ahead of COP21, countries drafted publically available Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which set national priorities and mapped steps that respective countries were prepared to take to meet goals that are both ambitious and equitable. Beginning in 2020, countries are mandated to submit updated rounds of targets every five years, while reporting on how actual emissions reductions compare with the target plans. Additionally, developed countries have reiterated their original pledge from Copenhagen: $100 billion annually in financial assistance by 2020 for developing countries to adapt to climate change while growing their renewable energy sector. In the summer of 2017 President Trump unilaterally chose to remove the United States from the agreement. More than 400 mayors across the US have pledged to uphold the agreement regardless of the US withdrawal. ENVS601: Contemporary Issues in Environmental Studies students researched the challenges and progress of some of these cities towards the global effort on climate change, their reduction in carbon emissions, adaptation efforts, and challenges faced due to impending climate change.

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