Waste has finally mattered in Paris. Since the Paris Climate Agreement was published in December, some have seen it as a historic moment in global cooperation. It shows that the whole world agreed upon the serious danger of climate change, and that waste management should be taken seriously.
The Paris Agreement or Accord de Paris is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. In December 2016, the 194 members of UNFCCC signed the treaty. 120 of them have now ratified it.
The aims of the Accord de Paris:
- Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
- Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
- Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development
From this agreement, the word ‘waste’ was not mentioned, but if you turn to the negotiations or where the real work needs to be done, the only way to meet the Paris goals will require waste management like composting, minimizing waste, recycling and zero waste initiatives. These are priority actions for a carbon-free future of this world.
For the companies who handle waste, they should see the ‘phone call’ to reduce emissions from waste as an opportunity to build greatly-improved incinerators and more modern landfills. It is also wise to know that these technologies still depend upon huge amounts of mixed waste. So to stop methane emissions (a greenhouse gas) from landfills then we must keep the organic waste out.
In this agreement there is a conclusion on the real solutions for climate change and waste management. Never should a company accept any material as waste. It has been proven that recycling, composting and reducing are the lowest cost ways to implement climate change solutions.