On Earth Day, April 22, history was written. World leaders from 175 parties (174 countries and the European Union) came together at the United Nations to sign the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The signing ceremony far exceeded the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement.
Over the past two years, the World Bank’s flagship climate change report series Turn Down the Heat and its complementary free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) have helped bring important climate related issues to policy makers and concerned citizens, reaching nearly 39,000 people in more than 180 countries worldwide.
Now, with the adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP 21, we are ready to launch a new and exciting MOOC: “From Climate Science to Action – Turn Down the Heat Series”. The MOOC is delivered in association with the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus – the one stop shop for development learning. This interactive course focuses on region-specific impacts and opportunities for climate action in the context of the Paris Agreement. With an overview of the submitted National Determined Contributions (NDCs), it lays out implementation challenges and opportunities of the Paris Agreement.
Today, over 80 million tons of CO2 will be emitted from economies around the world. Tomorrow will be the same, as will the day after that. The emitted amounts of CO2 will likely stay in the atmosphere for hundreds, if not thousands of years, further compounding the challenges in reversing the current and expected effects of climate change.
This past December, in Paris, leaders of 195 nations of the world agreed that this trend must be reversed, signaling a historic turning point in the global fight against climate change. The Paris Agreement ratified a global consensus to limit the global average temperature rise to ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.’ Developing nations were at the forefront of this agreement, with almost every one of them setting carbon reduction goals. While the public sector will play a major role in helping achieve the ambitious targets, the sheer volume of investment required to support low-carbon energy, transportation, and agriculture projects throughout the developing world leaves a gap of hundreds of billions of dollars that only the private sector is in a position to fill.
Negotiators in Paris last December achieved a previously unattainable consensus among all countries — large and small, industrialized and developing — on a target for minimizing climate change.
They agreed to hold planetary warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, which can only happen by drastically cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Adhering to the target requires a de facto energy revolution that transforms economies and societies by weaning the world from dependence on fossil fuels. The magnitude of the task means strategies and spending on a scale far exceeding previous efforts.
It has been nearly three months since 195 nations reached a historic agreement at COP21 in Paris to combat climate change and set the world on a path to a low carbon and more resilient future.
And in a little over a month, heads of state and governments will gather in New York to sign the Paris Agreement. Countries will then have one year to ratify the agreement, which will enter into force after it is ratified by at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
As we approach the signing of the agreement, it's time for countries and companies to seize the momentum from Paris and move from celebration of a landmark deal to action.
So what needs to happen?
So, food systems are finally on the climate change map and embedded in the language of the Paris Climate Agreement.
This is a long way from the previous involvement of agriculture as a contentious area that was subject to fractious debate and fatally entwined with the discussion around climate-change related loss and damage. A vast majority of national plans to address climate change or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) presented at the COP in Paris contained language and commitments on agriculture – for both adaptation and mitigation measures.
What’s behind this change in sentiment and action?
Last Saturday, UN climate negotiators from 195 countries agreed on a historic climate change accord in Paris after two weeks of intense negotiations. While many of us were hoping for a hook that would support the use of markets, we were happily surprised to see the extent and detail on carbon markets that was ultimately included in the Paris Agreement.
Today at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, people will gather and pay tribute to the life, vision and accomplishments of Maurice Strong who passed away November 27, 2015 on the eve of COP 21.
When he died in Ottawa at the age of 86, the world lost a crucial voice on the global environment and the urgent need for climate action. Ironically, Strong died on the eve of the Paris climate conference - for which he had laid the foundation over the last 45 years.
On December 3, 2015, hundreds of young people gathered at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) to join leaders and share their voices on climate change. The day was marked as the ‘Young and Future Generations Day,’ a chance for young people to have a seat at the table and share how they would define our future. Young people today are growing up with effects of climate challenge and this immediate threat makes them more leaders of today rather than tomorrow.