A Primer On Paris

What to expect from the Paris climate talks.

What To Expect From The Paris Climate Talks

Yesterday marked the first day of the United Nations climate talks in Paris. The goal of the talks, which started yesterday and continue through December 11th, is to reach a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions and prevent some of the most devastating impacts of climate change. Getting nearly 200 global leaders to agree is ambitious to say the least, but ahead of the talks more than 180 countries—including the largest greenhouse gas emitters like the U.S., China, and India—have submitted pledges to reduce carbon pollution, something that seemed incredibly improbable a year ago.

The talks began just weeks after NOAA announced that October broke heat records by the largest margin ever recorded, putting 2015 well on its way to becoming the hottest year on record. President Obama alluded to the increasingly visible signs of climate change at the opening of the talks yesterday saying, “there is such a thing as being too late. And when it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us.” The hope for the Paris negotiations to create a lasting international framework in which countries make increasingly ambitious commitments to reduce carbon pollution and build resilience to the effects of climate change.

The shadow of last month’s terror attacks in Paris hangs over the talks, highlighting the threat climate change poses to national security. Climate change serves as a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating other problems that can destabilize regions and lead to insecurity and will undoubtedly lead millions of people in need of new homes. President Obama highlighted the threat climate change poses this morning before leaving Paris: “This one trend, climate change, affects all trends. This is an economic and security imperative that we have to tackle now,” he said.

A global agreement to fight climate change would not only help prevent some of the most devastating impacts of climate change, from extreme drought to rising sea levels, but it would also result in economic gains. A clean energy economy would create more than 1 million additional jobs and increase GDP by $145 billion by 2030, according to a report from NextGen Climate America.

And the vast majority of Americans—two-thirds—support the United States entering into a legal agreement to limit global emissions. Unfortunately, many conservative lawmakers do not seem to agree. Today, in a largely symbolic effort, the House voted on two resolutions that would block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s ambitious plan to cut dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.

BOTTOM LINE:The time to act on climate is now. In Paris, world leaders have the opportunity to make a historic agreement that could help prevent the most devastating impacts of climate change and stabilize national security.

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