Paris Agreement Likely to Take Force This Year

(World leaders gather during COP21 talks last year)

Finally, some great news for the environment.

Dozens of nations have signed on to the Paris Agreement, bringing international action on climate change closer than ever to reality. The new signees come just after the United States and China – the world’s two largest carbon emitters – announced their intention to sign the agreement earlier this month.

The news came during this week’s UN gathering in New York City, where 31 countries formerly pledged to join the Paris Agreement. Also known as COP 21, the agreement was negotiated merely a year ago. Compare this lightening fast turn-around to the hurdles faced by the Kyoto Protocols – which took seven years to initiate – and the speed with which governments are moving to find common ground on climate change is, indeed, encouraging.

Among the nations that signed on this week, many rank high on the list of top polluters, including Brazil (5th largest polluter) and Mexico (13th largest polluter). Other states signing on this week include Albania, Honduras, Mongolia, The United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Morocco.

The fact that a total of 60 countries accounting for a full 48 percent of the entire world’s carbon emissions are now on board is a massive step for the international community in facing this existential threat. Now, all that remains is for additional signees accounting for a further 7 percent of the world’s carbon emissions to join before the agreement’s stipulations commence.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke about the historical nature of initializing the agreement:

This momentum is remarkable. It can sometimes take years or even decades for a treaty to enter into force… This is testament to the urgency of the crisis we all face.

There are, of course, the typical gamut of climate-deniers who would love nothing more than to scuttle the agreement. Republican presidential candidate and serial conspiracy theorist Donald Trump has – in perhaps one of the most absurd instances of conservative intransigence on this issue – claimed that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese government to derail US business interests.

His campaign has announced its intent to cancel the agreement should Trump win the November election. This, thankfully, is much more difficult than it sounds. Upon signing the agreement, a nation agrees to stringent protocols in the event that it chooses to leave the agreement. The process is so laborious that it would likely require more time than the lifespan of a potential Trump administration in order to successfully accomplish.

Nonetheless, forces hostile to the social good will continue trying to obstruct meaningful action on this paramount threat. Socially invested entrepreneurs, activists, and conscientious politicians need to keep up pressure on the Donald Trumps of the world in order to ensure maximum impact of green initiatives, for sake of all nations and future generations.

Kickstarter and UNHCR Team Up to Help Refugees

In recent weeks, Shaping the Story has looked at the ongoing refugee crisis stemming from the conflict in Syria. Relief agencies are struggling to cope, having raised only a fraction of the funding necessary for the massive scope of operations required to deal with the situation.

A new partnership is looking to buck the trend, raising money from U.S. citizens to help support the millions impacted by the intractable Middle East conflict.

After being contacted by the White House, crowdfunding website Kickstarter has teamed up with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to raise money on behalf of Syrian refugees. The Guardian will contribute video reporting on the crisis to be featured on the campaign page.

The alliance correlates with the Kickstarter’s new socially oriented direction. Recently reincorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation, Kickstarter possesses a charter requiring it to invest in nonprofits and expend resources on social good causes. The partnership will surely satisfy a portion of the company’s obligations.

It remains unclear if Kickstarter will profit from the campaign, or if all resources raised will go to relief efforts.

As governments in Europe struggle to produce a unified response and raise the requisite funding, this development is a welcome addition to humanitarian relief efforts. The world is witnessing the single greatest displacement of people since World War II. Many countries receiving massive influxes of refugees – from Turkey to Greece, Italy to Lebanon – are so cash-strapped that they cannot provide meaningful unilateral assistance.  The situation is exacerbated by xenophobic tension in host countries, evident in the hostile reception of refugees in countries such as Hungry.

Desperate people are also subjected to risky, potentially lethal migrant routes. Mediterranean raft travel has grown in frequency, as refugees try to land in European Union nations. This has resulted in a number of tragedies, including drownings. This horrific reality was documented in the widely circulated image of a drowned Syrian boy discovered on the coast of Turkey.

While a truly impactful approach will require the collaboration and robust efforts of world governments, the Kickstarter-UNHCR partnership will at least get the ball rolling. Visit the campaign page to learn more about how you can help make a difference.

PricingPrivacy PolicyRefund Policy