The Paris Agreement on climate action was a landmark moment in a few ways. A record number of countries pledged to keep global temperatures from rising 2° C (3.6° F) above pre-industrial levels this century, to prepare for the impacts of climate change and to help developing nations build clean energy futures. But just as the agreement enters into force today, the UN has declared the need to go above and beyond the commitments made in Paris, with the projected carbon emissions for the year 2030 leaving us little chance of keeping warming to safe levels.
The 2° C threshold was settled upon because scientists believe that it will minimize the risk of more intense storms, flooding, sea-level rise, decimated agriculture and the loss of ecosystems, among other catastrophes. The Paris Agreement also implored governments to aim for a safer level of 1.5° C, which would reduce the danger even further. A total of 195 countries have signed onto the Paris Agreement, with 85 of those ratifying it so far. This is promising progress, but the UN’s annual Emissions Report released yesterday suggests we still need to move a lot faster.
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