You might have heard global warming is a thing. World leaders have been trying to do something about it for decades. And now they’re finallyyyyyyy ready to sign a deal.
For years, people around the world have been debating whether global warming is real, and whether human activity has anything to do with it. But until recently, the US has mostly been on the sidelines.
Back in the ‘90s, a climate deal called the Kyoto protocol was written and eventually agreed to by almost 200 countries. It set up legally binding emissions goals for developed countries for the first time. Then-US Vice Prez Al Gore gave it two big green thumbs up. But Congress -- annoyed that it didn’t include developing countries like China, and worried about how it could affect the US economy -- said ‘ummm, no thanks.’ Without support from the US, one of the world’s gassiest countries, global climate change talks basically stalled.
When President Obama came on the scene, he made climate change a huge part of his presidential agenda. In 2009, he met with leaders of the world’s other major polluters (think: China, India) at a conference in Copenhagen. They agreed to cut their emissions for the first time. This would have been a BFD, but no legally binding agreement was ever officially inked. Womp.
Late last year, world leaders finally got together in Paris and agreed on a plan to actually do something about global warming. The plan aims to limit the rise in global temps and drastically reduce man-made emissions to a level that forests and oceans can absorb.
Goals. Each country gets its own targets to stop passing so much gas. Developing countries like India will get a little cash $$$ from developed countries like the US to help make it happen. At least 150 countries are expected to sign the deal, and everybody has to submit progress reports.
GOP lawmakers are saying ‘woah woah’ we need to sign off on this, while Dems are saying ‘about time something’s done about global warming.’ And Pope Francis is saying ‘amen’: this year he officially said humans are to blame for global warming, marking a huge attitude shift for the Catholic Church.
UN scientists estimate that in recent years, hundreds of thousands of people have died in extreme weather events related to global warming. And the UN says that number is set to go up as climate change gets worse. Bottom line: now is a good time to get the world on the same page.