Climate Talks Are Over, Now What?

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Climate Talks Are Over, Now What?

Never before has there been so much alignment on action that needs to be taken to mitigate the risks of climate change. But never before has there been so much work still to do.
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Green Builder Media CEO, Sara Gutterman

Green Builder Media

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 - 9:30am

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living

CONTENT: Blog

No doubt, the agreement reached in Paris to limit global warming, reduce carbon emissions, adopt clean technologies, and assist poor countries that have been impacted by climate change is historic. Never before has there been so much alignment on action that needs to be taken to mitigate the risks of climate change. Never before have we had such a framework for cooperation. However, the agreement isn’t the endpoint, it’s just the beginning, and now the hard work begins.

The Paris agreement simply opens a door for change, and now we must walk boldly through it. As Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, German environmental scientist and climate advisor to Pope Francis, said, “This is a turning point in the human enterprise, where the great transformation towards sustainability begins.”

Ultimately, the success of global climate action efforts won’t be measured by the signing of this agreement. Rather, it will be assessed by the ability and willingness to execute on the stated commitments of over 190 countries and countless multi-national businesses.

In the U.S., the agreement will undoubtedly encounter roadblocks. Congress’ attack effort to dismantle the agreement began even before the COP21 delegates returned stateside. “The president is making promises he can’t keep, writing checks he can’t cash, and stepping over the middle class to take credit for an ‘agreement’ that is subject to being shredded in 13 months,” said Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader.

But, because the agreement is not considered a treaty under U.S. law, there is little that Congress can do to impede it. While Congress would need to approve funding to assist developing countries adapt to climate change—an important aspect of the American commitment, the 31-page document explicitly excludes emissions reduction targets and finance from legally binging aspects (such as public reporting and five-year review cycles that ratchet up the stringency of climate change policies), thereby protecting the U.S. from liability and compensation claims for causing climate damage.

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Keywords: Environment | COP21 | Green Builder Media | Sara Gutterman

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living

CONTENT: Blog

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