World leaders in Paris put people before polluters when the world’s countries agreed to reduce carbon pollution. The Paris agreement is an historic moment in the fight against climate change. The agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries, will work to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon pollution. The agreement is ambitious, transparent and forces accountability on the nationally determined climate targets set by countries around the world.
The agreement reached at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris sets goals to keep the temperature of the earth from rising “well below” 2 degrees Celsius with an eye towards keeping the temperature rise closer to 1.5 degrees. It seems like a small goal, but in the long run it would have a huge impact on island countries around the world and the nearly 280 million people who live on land that could be submerged by rising waters as well as protect the public health of all citizens. Ensuring this goal is met will mean limiting greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon emissions, and moving away from fossil fuels while making investments in clean energy sources. Perhaps most importantly, it sets a common goal for countries around the world to work together.
In the United States, we’ve already begun to take steps to fight climate change. The Clean Power Plan, which forms the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, is the single greatest step the country has ever taken to address climate change. If the U.S. is to continue its leadership on climate and honor its international commitments, these standards need to be fully implemented. The Clean Power Plan also will benefit Americans by protecting public health, spurring innovation and creating new jobs in the clean energy industry.
This agreement is only the first step in the long-term goals agreed to by the nearly 200 countries that signed the agreement. But it has been praised by everyone from President Obama to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French president, François Hollande. The agreement proves that countries, big and small, wealthy and poor can all come together to set achievable goals to save the planet. The Paris agreement is the most concrete step that the world has made to fight the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.