Since August 2018 a Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, has sat outside her country’s parliament building every Friday rather than in a classroom. She is there to demand that the government takes climate action by implementing the 2015 Paris agreement. While some thought she would give up her strike, her resolve could not be broken by the cold, heat or disapproval from adults.
Last Friday children in 72 countries joined what have come to be known as the school strikes against climate change. It is important to note that one of the pillars on which the strike hangs is the Paris climate accord globally endorsed in 2015 at the 21st conference of parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Taken alongside the UN sustainable development goals, the hope is that global temperature rises above preindustrial levels can be kept at 1.5C or “well below” 2C. It is also hoped that with the development goals poverty and hunger can be terminated by 2050. Are these attainable targets?
Negotiations on pathways of implementing the Paris climate agreement underscore the fact that there is a global agreement that countries must take action. But the indications of how this would be achieved are not at the level of ambition needed to counter, slow or stop the looming climate chaos. The problem with voluntary emissions reduction by nations is that such actions would only achieve the targets if the key polluters do their fair