The Paris Climate Agreement was developed in 2015 to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and limit the global temperature increases. After President Trump left the agreement, President Biden reentered the Paris Climate Agreement soon after taking office. This lesson looks at the Paris Agreement and has students analyze video clips featuring various perspectives on the agreement and what next steps should be taken. Students will use these perspectives to develop global solutions to rising greenhouse gas emissions.
This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.
You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.
You can also save and share the following Google handout for students to use with this lesson.
Handout: Paris Climate Agreement (Google Doc)
By making a copy of this Google Doc, you can adjust the instructions and provide that copy to your students. Your students can also make a copy and complete the assignments digitally in the space provided.
Open the class by having students brainstorm answers to the following question:
Review the students’ answers and discuss the idea of international cooperation and agreements.
Ensure that the students have working definitions of the vocabulary words listed below. This can be a review for those students familiar with these terms already or teachers can assign the terms to students to research and define. These vocabulary terms will be used throughout the video clips.
Using the handout linked below, introduce the students to the history and goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Students will view the introductory video and answer the guiding questions.
Handout: Paris Climate Agreement (Google Doc)
Video Clip 1: The Paris Climate Accord (3:46)
Describe the origins of the Paris Climate Agreement.
What does the Paris Climate Agreement call for? What problem does this agreement address?
What did President Trump do in 2017 regarding the Paris Climate Agreement?
What are President Biden’s goals for emissions? What are obstacles to achieving these goals?
Review the students’ responses and address any misconceptions about the Paris Climate Agreement.
To explore the topic of the Paris Climate Agreement and future global climate policies, students will view each of the video clips listed below. When viewing these clips, students will answer each of these guiding questions. Students will use the information from these videos later to develop global solutions to reducing emissions.
How does the Paris Climate Agreement accomplish its goals?
What are challenges and criticisms that the Paris Climate Agreement faces?
Differentiation Options: This section can also be done as a jigsaw activity or the video clips can be viewed as a class with discussions after each one.
Video Clip 2: Paris Climate Accord and Emissions Targets (2:56)
Video Clip 3: Sen. Cramer (R-ND) on the Paris Climate Accord
Video Clip 4: The Paris Accord and Emissions (2:28)
Video Clip 5: Sen. Joni Ernst on the Paris Climate Agreement (1:12)
Video Clip 6: Net Zero Emissions and the Paris Climate Accord (1:41)
Address any questions that come up as students view the video clips. To apply this knowledge, students will develop a written plan for addressing global emissions. They will need to use examples from the videos to discuss how their plan addresses the rise in global emissions and criticisms of the Paris Climate Agreement. Use the following prompt to have student complete this task.
Differentiation Options: This section can be adapted to be a class discussion, student presentation or think-pair-share activity.
To conclude the lesson, based on what they have learned students will complete the following task as an exit slip:
Tracking Climate Pledges by Country- Using the Carbon Brief Paris climate pledge tracker, choose two foreign countries in the Paris Climate Agreement. Use the information on the website to provide the following information:
Names of the Country
Shares of the 2012 Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)
Summarize their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (I/NDC)
How do these two countries compare in terms of emissions and commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement?
Carbon Dioxide Emission Projections- Using the U.S. Energy Information Administration website, explore the data and projections relating to energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2050. Based on this, provide the following information:
Describe the overall trends in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.
What factors are contributing to increases in emissions?
What factors are contributing to decreases in emissions?
Describe the overall trends in global carbon dioxide emissions.
What other global issues do you think countries should work together on?
How effective are global agreements like the Paris Climate Agreement at addressing global concerns? Why do you think this is?
How should the United States address climate change while promoting economic growth?
What challenges do advocates of the Paris Climate Agreement face in the United States?