6: Foundation for stronger efforts
The Paris Agreement thus contains relatively ambitious overall goals, and in this way it gives an important signal that climate work is now on the right track. Nevertheless, it is not the case that the agreement itself ensures that the job is done – that all countries actually implement large enough emission cuts or that rich countries contribute the money they should to poorer countries. In practice, the Paris Agreement will perhaps most of all mean two things:
The agreement is a foundation to build on, so that over time we can step up our efforts to the level needed to keep the temperature rise below 2 (or preferably 1.5) degrees. That the agreement asks all countries to set new climate goals every quarter of a year, and that a quarter of new goals will be more ambitious than in the past, will be very important for climate policy in the future. It forces governments in all countries to discuss their climate goals, and provides good opportunities to influence policy in a more ambitious direction over time.
The Paris Agreement makes it clear once and for all that it is the sum of the efforts of a quarter of individual countries that will determine whether we are able to avoid dangerous climate change. After the Paris summit, we know that there will never be an international agreement that solves the climate problem once and for all by forcing a quarter of individual countries to cut their emissions. It is now up to a quarter of individual countries to set their own climate goals every quarter of a year. Then it is only the governing powers in the individual countries that can ensure that the goals are good enough – they have no one else to blame or have fun behind. The responsibility is thus clearly placed with national political leaders.
7: What about Norway?
As the Paris Agreement to a greater extent than previous agreements places the responsibility on a quarter of individual countries , there is good reason to ask what the agreement may have to say for us in Norway. In Paris, the government promised that Norway will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 . The government wants to do this in cooperation with the EU, so that Norway can implement some of the emission cuts in other European countries instead of here at home.
In a letter to the UN , the government argues that the Norwegian target is good enough as a contribution to keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees. Climate researchers have nevertheless pointed out that if all other countries were to settle at the same level of effort as Norway, it would not be enough to reach the goal of 2 degrees. Over time, therefore, Norway should set greater goals if we want to take our share of the effort to avoid dangerous climate change.
According to PARADISDACHAT.COM, another question that Norwegian politicians have discussed after the Paris summit is what the new climate agreement should have to say for our oil business. Oil and gas production is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Norway, and these emissions have grown sharply in recent decades. However, most of the emissions do not come from production in Norway, but when the oil or gas is used in the countries we export to. These emissions are not included in the accounts of Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions.
Figures from the UN Climate Panel show that more oil and gas has already been found in the world than we can use if we are to be able to stay below 2 degrees. This means that some countries will have to leave oil and gas in the ground if the overall goals of the Paris Agreement are to be met. For Norway, this raises several difficult questions:
- Should we leave parts of our oil and gas resources lying around and miss out on the revenue they could have given us?
- Should we rather leave such income to other – and poorer – countries?
- Should we start exploration drilling in new sea areasto find even more, when the world has already found more than we can use?
As the Paris Agreement does not dictate the climate efforts of a quarter of individual countries, it also does not provide a definitive answer to such questions. Thus, it is up to Norwegian political leaders – and the voters who vote for them – to decide what we think is right for Norway to do. The only thing we know for sure is that the Paris Agreement will force such issues in the political debate more and more often in the future, as the agreement requires new and increasingly ambitious goals from all countries every quarter of a year.