Paris Conference To Address Climate Change
The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) is currently ongoing in Le Bourget, Paris, France between Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. The goal of the Conference has been to stop climate change by decreasing emissions. This year it is anticipated that by the end of the conference there will be a new international accord on climate change to keep global warming below 2°C. If the conference is successful, it will be the first time that almost every country will enact new laws to fight climate change.
“To reach this target, experts estimate that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be reduced by 40 to 70 percent by 2050 and that carbon neutrality (zero emissions) needs to be reached by the end of the century at the latest” (COP21, “Why 2°C?”, COP21).
During the weekend before the conference, more than half a million protesters around the world marched to further bolster the importance of the conference and urge the world leaders to draft a climate change accord. One such crowd gathered in Hyde Park in London, where about 50,000 people held up signs with slogans like “There is no planet B” (i24news, “Hollande says ‘future of life’ at stake at climate conference,” 11.30.15).
“Never have the stakes of an international meeting been so high, because it concerns the future of the planet, the future of life,” French President François Hollande said in his opening speech at the conference.
Many believe that this meeting is the last chance to prevent the worst repercussions of climate change. “According to the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], global warming of more than 2°C would have serious consequences, such as an increase in the number of extreme climate events” (COP21). This may prove to be a difficult task, since the agreement must be unanimous to take effect (“Obama and World Leaders Open Paris Climate Talks, Seeking a Deal”, NYTimes). All past conferences have failed to make the desired impact, mostly because of the divisions between poor and rich countries. Developing countries have posited that because industrialized countries polluted for a longer period of time, they should shoulder more of the burden, a point echoed by President Obama (BBC, “COP21: Paris conference could be climate turning point, says Obama,” 11.30.15). “I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter,” Obama said, “to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.”
—Hannah Mittman, Guest Reporter
Turkish Plane Shot Down Over Syrian Border
On Tuesday, Nov. 24, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkey-Syrian border. One of the two pilots was killed once the aircraft hit the ground and the second was rescued. Many believe that the aircraft had crossed into Turkish airspace and ignored several warnings. According to a U.S. official, the aircraft was in Turkish airspace for 30 seconds–Turkey sent 10 warnings in five minutes that they were nearing their airspace (CNN “Putin calls jet’s downing ‘stab in the back,’” 11.24.15).
Despite the repeated claims that warnings were given to the Russian aircraft before it was shot down, rescued pilot Konstantin Murakhtin stated that there were no warnings given on radio or visually (“Turkey won’t apologize for downing Russian warplane, Erdogan says”, CNN, 11.26.15). In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that it had informed the United States of the aircraft’s flight path, so it should not have been surprising to see a Russian aircraft in the area at the time.
While the Turkish military has released audio to prove its claims of having given fair warning, the Russian Defense Ministry argued that it was faked. This has escalated tensions between the two nations, as they already had different standings on Syria’s political conflict. Turkey supports the rebels opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a key ally of Russia. Turkey also has strong ties to a Turkmen minority group residing in northern Syria, where the aircraft was shot down (“Turkey downs Russian warplane claiming airspace breach”, USA Today, 11.24.15). While Turkey reacted strongly to having a warplane near this minority group, Russia claims that that aircraft was on an anti-terrorism mission.
Turkey called an emergency NATO meeting following the incident, during which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for de-escalation and for NATO allies to stand in solidarity with Turkey (New York Times, “NATO-Russian tensions rise after turkey downs jet,” 11.24.15).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told CNN, “I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us. Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize” (CNN, “Turkey won’t apologize for downing Russian warplane, Erdogan says,” 11.26.15).
—Shelia Hu, Guest Reporter