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International Environmental journalist Stephen Leahy sums up the world’s new climate plan in a few words. He very succinctly summarizes why the #ParisAgreement is historic. I call it the vital first step in a previous post. The entire #RoadtoParis was a long journey and now  the real work begins.

Paris Agreement

Every country in the world just agreed to: (Stephen Leahy)

  1. Phase out fossil fuels well before the end of the century;
  2. Try to keep global warming to less than 1.5C (very difficult since it’s already 1.0C);
  3. Rich countries will help poor countries to green their economies, help pay for the damages from climate impacts and help them adapt to future impacts.

“The Paris Agreement is like buying life insurance. It’s for the benefit of our children and grandchildren,” says Leahy.

So What Happens Next?

The two drawings are by Perrin Ireland, a science illustrator who was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council to do a visual display explaining the Paris proceedings. In two artistic drawings, Perrin captures the essence of the road ahead and who the principal characters are.

In 60 Words and Images - The Historic Paris Agreement
Credit: Perrin Ireland/ NRDC
In 60 Words and Images - The Historic Paris Agreement
Credit: Perrin Ireland/ NRDC

Right now it’s time to celebrate our accomplishments but it is not time to sit on our laurels. Complacency must not set in. Ongoing vigilance and relentless pressure on our elected officials, to match their Paris words with domestic action, will be my two operative mantras for 2016.

I have two nagging questions as I look forward to 2016. 1. What lies beyond the #ParisAgreement? 2. What’s next for my climate activist colleagues and I going into the next year?

The target going forward is not 2 degrees Celsius. It’s 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License

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  1. Sorry, but I totally disagree that the non-binding agreement signed to such excitement in Paris means very much. If governments follow through on the weak promises they made the earth’s temperature will increase by 3.5 degrees Celsius. Now there’s going to be another meeting of some sort in 2018, and we can hope they will increase their commitments.

    The scary thing about the countries saying we can keep global warming to 1.5 degrees is based on the dangerous assumption that technologies that don’t exist now can be created to such billions of tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere we’ve been putting there. This is a t best a cross-fingers wish, and there’s no Plan B.

    The fact that this hollow agreement is being welcomed by so many people who should know better means that it’s going to be even more difficult for environmental groups to get people involved in the fight. The people have just been told everything is pretty good. This is not what we needed. I’m not sure, but a total collapse might have been better.

    Of course many of the the cowardly politicians behind this scam will be retired by 2020, when the first evaluation is to take place.

    • My reaction to the Paris Agreement is quite similar to yours. Yes it’s the first time that world leaders have been successful in signing an agreement. That in itself is an accomplishment. But it is non-binding, hollow (as you say Nick) and will likely be ignored by many countries until the next meeting in 5 years. And as you point out, it will be harder to involve the general public in climate action now that we have an agreement. The big push has been to get an agreement – so mission accomplished.

      So basically we’re saying that we have a problem and we have an aspirational goal to aim for 1.5C of warming and we will try to get off fossil fuels sometime this century. Here in Canada we already see signs of the new government returning to business as usual as you can read in my latest post: Canada has two climate faces –

      Our work is just beginning. We must expose the agreement for the political sham that it is.

  2. My husband would be inclined to agree with you Nick.

    I want to believe that the agreement means something (despite its obvious weaknesses). To get countries to agree the fundamentals if not all the actions, is at least a base of solidarity on which to build more understanding, collaboration and friendship. Believe me, the latter is the most important of all, because until countries can talk from a position of amiability with one another, no agreements will ever be forthcoming.

    It is all very well to say certain actions should be taken, but people from other cultures have very different visions of the future to our own. Building trust is the first step forward because every country out there probably thinks it is going to get screwed-over financially in trying to put everything right in the fossil fuel induced warming trend. We have to prove that it will all come right, so we have to accept that not everyone who signed the COP 21 deal, is truly seeing the big picture yet. They have signed up with a bit of ‘faith’ but it is a tenuous ‘partnership’ that will need a lot of hand-holding and soothing words to keep everyone shuffling down the right ‘path.

  3. To answer your questions Rolly –

    What lies beyond the Paris Agreement? Well for a while, it might be ‘wait and see.’ The signing countries have to get their various ministers to draw up and implement strategies that reduce CO2, meaning committees and some time consuming work.

    And What’s next for climate activists – they have to pester their environment and climate change ministers for the implementation plans they now have to compile. All environmentalists must tell their government that they expect to be included in information releases, going to the press and organisations like, AVAAZ and so on. We have a right to know that the agreements will be honoured everywhere.
    We mustn’t let them get away with inaction.

    • I can assure you and BoomerWarrior followers that I and my climate activist colleagues will be both vigilant and active starting on the first day of 2016. Perhaps a couple of weeks of rest and re-energizing are in order before the next battles begin.

      I’m attending a meeting in a few days to plan next steps starting in January. I know that 350.Org, Citizens Climate Lobby and many other organizations will be monitoring the implementation of the Paris agreement in the coming weeks and months.

  4. All this talk about limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees is a distraction from the fact that we are destined to over shoot by a wide margin and ultimately pay the consequences. We are looking for technological solutions to a human nature problem. We seek the government and industry to find solutions to our determination to maintain our current life style. Until we change our life style, technology cannot save enough of anything to save us. I have yet to meet anyone willing to take a significant change to life style to save the planet. Shortly several million people in Ontario will be heading south for a tropical holiday. We all drive further as cars get more efficient. Millions of energy efficient air-conditioners are being made and sold to people that never had one before. The rest of the world wants what we have and will not give up. Our children are doomed. Get used to the idea, and spread this story. China cannot substitute solar power for coal, they need the land to grow food for 1.3 billion people. They want air-conditioners too.

    • Steven – yes you are right. Soon millions will be flying to warmer climates for the winter. The cultural, social, economic and political choices we make are killing the planet much faster than climate initiatives can cope with. The battle to tackle global warming is being lost every single day. It’s discouraging.


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