On Saturday night, 196 countries approved a landmark climate accord.
It would commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions – to help reduce the drastic effects of climate change.
Adopted after 13 days of intense bargaining in a Paris suburb, I am sure, this accord is a path-breaking moment in the history of climate change negotiations.
Across the globe, slowly but steadily, this agreement will change the way we are producing and consuming energy, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and compel us to adopt cleaner forms of energy.
Solar, wind and nuclear energy researches, installations and applications will rise dramatically, to replace conventional methods.
For months and days, there were huge discussions on the wordings of the draft of this agreement. But, for laymen like us, it is enough to infer that, through this accord, all countries will work together to ensure that the global temperature does not rise by 1.5°C (2.7°F) by the turn of the century.
This would mean reducing all emissions that cause global warming, where rich countries are committing to help poor countries meet global aims.
The would also mean reducing pollution from factories and cities. It forces countries like India and China to comply, when they have been saying, again and again, that they cannot, because they actually need enormous industrial outputs, to sustain their huge economies.
India and China have been asking why they should bear the brunt for the environmental damage already done by the already-industrialised countries like USA, UK and most of Europe. These developed nations have, in fact, caused global warming, according to India and China.
But US Secretary John Kerry’s long and persistent negotiations with his Chinese and Indian counterparts yielded results, and the two countries relented, and this accord has been facilitated.
Most importantly, this Paris Accord marks the beginning of the “end of the fossil fuel era”.
It is not good news for economies in the Middle East which are largely oil-driven.
Reduction in the use of fossil fuels would mean that OPEC (Oil and Petroleum Exporting Countries) and other such countries cannot hope to keep their economies heavily balanced on oil in the not-so-distant future.
Oil price, anyway, has been sliding down to dizzying depths. And according to a recent Wall Street Journal report (‘Oil Producing Countries Pummelled by $40 Crude’, 10 Dec 2015): “The fall of crude prices to six-year lows in recent weeks has pummelled oil-producing countries from Venezuela to Iraq, threatening their ability to keep pumping petroleum and forcing governments to take painful measures to shore up national budgets”.
As Bahrain is only into oil refinery, and as its economy is relatively small, it may not be as severely affected by these soon-to-come changes, as the region’s other oil reliant economies would.
But knowing the inevitability of the arrival of alternate energy, many oil economies have been trying to diversify for a while now. But whether they will be successful or not will depend on time.
It is nice to note that rich countries have agreed to raise $100bn (£66bn) a year by 2020 to help poor countries transform their economies.
From the US, President Barack Obama has applauded the accord despite his Republican opposition’s argument that climate change is not such a major issue that US must commit to any funding to outside nations.
All said and done, this agreement is a clear victory for the United Nations. It had spent four years fighting political inertia and the deep rifts between rich and poor countries, to design this ambitious deal.
And congratulations are due to Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief, who guided the talks, who tweeted: “I used to say: we must, we can, we will. Today, we can say we did.”
Those who wish to see the accord can find it here: