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Historic Climate Pact

December 15th, 2015

Some of the key negotiators of the historic climate pact. Photo credit: COP21/Flickr CC

For the first time ever, nearly every single country in the world signed a landmark agreement to help with climate change!

This agreement was the outcome of a United Nations led conference on climate change in Paris that ended this past weekend.

President Obama said , “For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change, one of the most crucial problems on Earth.” He added that, “Together we’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one.”

The 195 leaders came together at the start of the conference and then 45,000 of the leaders’ representatives stayed to work out the specifics.

They needed extra time and worked into the wee hours. It was high stakes because there was no back-up plan. As the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon likes to say, “There’s no Plan B because there is no Planet B.” There’s only one planet Earth.

The agreement isn’t perfect, some say it’s too weak and doesn’t go far enough. But it’s a great and important start.

What the agreement does do is aim to prevent the Earth’s temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius/3.6 degrees Fahrenheit overall, over time (not on any one given day). Scientists believe that’s the tipping point for us to start experiencing the really bad potential effects of climate change — much hotter temperatures, too much melting of the ice sheets, much higher rising sea levels, more extreme storms, and greater imbalances in our ecosystem.

How do we accomplish this?  Mainly by limiting the amount of greenhouse gases  we put into the air. Countries can monitor and set limits for industries.

In our daily lives our own personal effort involves things as simple as carpooling, wearing sweaters, eating leftovers … and have less cows passing gas! (We’ll let the video below explain that one!)

As challenging as it was to have so many countries come to an agreement … the real work to meet these goals is just beginning.

A couple more resources:

Interactive Carbon Map

COP21 Paris official website

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