This is good news! All the countries have agreed to move ahead with an historic climate change agreement.
In a literally world-changing deal that was almost unthinkable just a year ago, some two hundred leading nations unanimously embraced a plan that will leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned.
As part of a concerted effort to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world unanimously committed to an ongoing effort of increasingly deeper emissions reductions aimed at keeping total warming “to well below 2°C [3.6°F] above preindustrial levels.” The full text of this Paris Agreement goes even further, with the parties agreeing “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”
Already, global coal use appears to be plateauing, and global oil use will likely follow suit in the next decade as countries ratchet up their CO2 targets.
To get an idea of how challenging these negotiations have been, imagine trying to get a substantive agreement on any major topic in the U.S. Senate if the requirement for success were unanimity! Tragically, conservatives in Congress are doing everything that they can to undermine this deal, which is humanity’s best chance to avoid decades if not centuries of needless suffering for billions of people.
The economic and environmental implications of this deal for Americans are staggering. In the near term, it will unlock an accelerating multi-trillion-dollar shift in capital investment away from carbon-intensive coal and oil, which were the cornerstone of the first industrial revolution, into clean technologies like solar, wind, LED lighting, advanced batteries, and electric cars. It means far less harmful carbon pollution will be emitted in the coming years.
The agreement “sends a very powerful message to the business and investment community that the age of fossil fuels is ending,” explained the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Alden Meyer. Thus, “continued investments in high-carbon assets conflicts with their fiduciary responsibility.”
The Paris Agreement means the world may avoid many of the most catastrophic impacts. That said, a quarter century of largely ignoring scientific warnings has left the world unable to stop a number of very dangerous impacts, including sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather, and Dust-Bowlification.
“The planet is in crisis. We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that,” he said Saturday in a statement released shortly before delegates in Paris are due to vote on the agreement, the first to require climate efforts of nearly every country.
President Obama will be giving a statement at 5:30 PM Eastern time about the agreement.