Lawmakers get U.N. agreement on climate change

The environmental ministry presented the Paris climate accord to lawmakers Wednesday for approval. This is the agreement Costa Rica and other nations approved last December which now needs legislative approval.

When the government moves to live up to its promise to curb climate change, the effort may have a big impact on life here.

Edgar Gutiérrez, the minister of Ambiente y Energía, and foreign minister Manuel González presented the agreement in the form of a bill

The agreement grows out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Countries have agreed to hold the increase in global temperature to below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial times with the goal to hold the increase to no more than 1.5 degrees C.

Global temperatures have risen one degree C above what the U.N. Convention calls pre-industrial levels. No one really knows what the temperature was before coal became a major fuel, but climate scientists have picked the average in the last half of the 19th century as the pre-industrial average.

Scientists estimate that worldwide the average temperature has increased a degree C since the end of the 19th century.

The climate agreement is voluntary. Costa Rica is supposed to set its own goal, and there is no penalty for not meeting them.

The temperature here is well above pre-industrial levels and has been as long as the continents have had their current configuration.

However, government officials say that climate change is a grave threat to humanity and that Central America is particularly vulnerable. The government warned of economic loss through storms, flooding and drought.

The agreement presented to lawmakers Wednesday will not have a direct effect on life here. The country already has presented its proposed  nationally determined contribution to the accord. In fact, Costa Rica did so last September. This  is the document that contains specifics.

Costa Rica said it would keep net greenhouse gas emissions to 9.387 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. The country also has promised to become carbon neutral by 2021, but that is unlikely.

To reach this goal, most observers say the country needs to reduce its dependency on petroleum based fuels and increase its programs for reforestation and payments for maintaining forest and vacant farmland.

Costa Rica already is having much of its electricity generated by hydro courses and not greenhouse gas-generating fuels.

Of course, all the regulations would depend on the governments that is in power in the future.

Costa Rica has lost a large amount of its territory since the end of the Ice Age. Sea levels have risen nearly 400 feet worldwide.

That increase in sea level continues, and some scientists say the rate is increasing. Since the end of the 19th century, the average sea level may have risen as much as 8 inches, although the amount is different in different places.

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