Saturday, April 23, 2016

Did the Paris Climate Accord Start a Low-Carbon Landslide?

Environmentalist activists form a human chain representing the peace sign and the spelling out "100% renewable", on the side line of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. (Credit: AP Photomichel Euler) Click to Enlarge.
Many years from now, the historic international Paris climate agreement could easily be seen as the moment the conversation changed.

“One of the cool things coming out of Paris was the idea of moving from a ‘woe-is-me’ narrative to talking about the possibilities,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network.  “This change of attitudes is where I think the momentum is. We are in motion.’’

The Paris accord seems to have turned climate change “from an insurmountable problem to an opportunity,” agreed Richard Kauffman, chairman of energy and finance for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose administration has been at the forefront of climate change mitigation. “People in Paris witnessed a hinge of history taking place.  There is a broad range of actors committed to change, and we can see the ways in which change can be made.”

On Friday — Earth Day — representatives from about 150 countries gather[ed] at the United Nations in New York to sign the historic agreement, which was adopted in December after years of negotiations and controversy.  It is expected to be an important dividing line between “before” and “after.”

“I think Paris will be seen as the tipping point where the drive for de-carbonization picked up momentum and hopefully became unstoppable,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists and an international climate change policy expert.  “The direction of travel is clear.  The only question is the pace.”

Paris has sent a signal strongly encouraging governments, companies, and others to engage in climate action, making it easier and more acceptable to move away from the consumption and investment in fossil fuels toward supporting clean energy.

“Some of what is happening is new, some is not new, but when you put it all together, it is staggering,” said Seth Schultz, director of research for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of cities working to combat climate change.  “People have been working on a lot of this stuff for years and years, but Paris is acting as a catalyst and accelerant.  It has legitimized efforts and emboldened political leaders.  Being able to take action on a climate agenda with the backdrop of 193 countries agreeing provides a legitimacy that is hard to argue against.”

Read more at Did the Paris Climate Accord Start a Low-Carbon Landslide?

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