Mason Professor Discusses Paris Climate Agreement Report

A one-on-one with Edward Maibach about climate change


As industrialization starts to spread to other parts of the world due to globalization and urbanization, the release of greenhouse gases is continuing at an alarming rate and does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Many academics and researchers are concerned about this, including Edward W. Maibach, a Mason professor and the director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication.

“The IPCC [the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report was a huge wake-up call to the leaders of the world,” said Professor Maibach. “The report makes clear that the goal of the Paris [Climate] Agreement, which all leaders in the world have agreed to—except President Trump— … is not enough to protect your generation, much less future generations of people.”

Maibach added that people only have about 10 years to dramatically accelerate the global transition to clean energy. “The faster we make the transition to a clean-energy economy,” he said, “the sooner we create safer, more prosperous families, communities, states and nations.”

He also said that fossil fuel emissions do not damage only the earth, but also the health of individuals— specifically our lungs, hearts, brain and metabolism.

Climate change itself is also harmful, potentially causing “increasingly violent weather [and] increasing numbers of tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses, dangerous heat waves, et cetera,” Maibach said.

The Paris Climate Agreement is one international response to climate change. According to Helen Briggs from the BBC, it is an agreement between 200 countries that tries to constrain global warming to 1.5 (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) to 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

If the earth’s temperature increases beyond that by even half a degree, it could cause extreme heat, droughts, floods and climate-related poverty.

According to Business  Insider, the agreement includes both wealthy, developed countries and poorer, developing countries. Developing nations require financing from richer countries so they can pass on using cheap, fossil-fuel energy sources while renewable energy sources are being developed and implemented. This financing requirement is one of the reasons why President Trump wanted to exit the agreement.

Scientists say that the Paris Agreement is just one step on the long road to a low-carbon world.