2014 is on track to go down as the warmest year on record. A three-year drought in California, a typhoon in the Philippines, and rapidly melting ice in Antarctica were all signs of climate change in 2014. Now scientists wonder whether 2015 will be the year countries take strict action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The recently concluded United Nations climate meeting in Lima set the stage for 2015.
All eyes on the U.S. and China
Nations will come together in Paris in December 2015 to sign a new climate treaty that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expired in 2012. Delegates from more than 180 countries in Lima produced a draft text for the climate deal. They have also pledged $10 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help poor countries cope with global warming. The Lima summit was significant because developing countries such as China and India also joined developed nations in cutting carbon emissions.
But all eyes will be on the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest polluters. The two countries signed a climate deal in November. Washington committed to cut emissions by 26-28%by 2025. Beijing said its emissions would peak by 2030. Chris Fields, director of the Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, said that the two countries have recognized their “outsized roles” in causing the problem.
Climate developments add to a sense of urgency
Fields said the key to progress in 2015 will be to build on the U.S.-China agreement. Moreover, the rapid pace of climate change could itself add to a sense of urgency. The Earth’s temperature this year between January and November was 1.22 degrees higher than the 20th century average of 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Shockingly, the temperature rise was happening even without a mature El Nino, reports NBC News.
An El Nino seems to be forming now. It could push the temperature even higher, possibly making 2015 another record warm year. Another climate development that has alarmed scientists is that Arctic temperatures are rising at twice the rate of the rest of the world.