Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Thanks to U.S. Leadership to cut carbon pollution, more than 170 countries sign historic climate pact.

Thanks To U.S. Leadership To Cut Carbon Pollution, More Than 170 Countries Sign Historic Climate Pact

It’s time to say joyeux jour de la terre to this planet we call home because something pretty exciting happened in her honor. Today more than 170 world leaders gathered today at the United Nations to sign the Paris Agreement, which for the first time brings all nations together under a common cause to work together and tackle climate change.

Even though today marked the formal signing, countries around the world have already begun building on programs to increase clean energy and stop the dirty energy pollution that drives climate change. The United States is leading this effort under the guidance of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which includes new programs to limit several kinds of pollution that contribute to climate change. Among them, the Clean Power Plan– a new program to limit carbon pollution in states across the country, while giving individual states the flexibility to meet pollution reduction goals in ways that work for them– is its crown jewel.

In order for the agreement to take effect, 55 percent of countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions must ratify the deal. Both China and the United States—who together make up 40 percent of global emissions—signed the deal today, bringing the it a big step closer to taking effect. China’s leadership in the Paris agreement is particularly noteworthy as it serves as a strong rebuttal to those who claim the United States should not take action on climate change because other large greenhouse gas emitters like China and India will not do the same.

But these deniers’ arguments are running out of gas. China is now the largest investor in clean energy in the world, and plans to open a nationwide carbon trading scheme this year. Meanwhile, India is planning to install more than 100 gigawatts of solar power before 2022. For comparison, the U.S. currently has 16 gigawatts of solar power in its electricity mix.

Here at home the Clean Power Plan is the biggest step the U.S. has ever taken to combat climate change. Power plants in the U.S. put out roughly 40 percent of all carbon pollution nationally, and the Clean Power Plan is set up to reduce this pollution from power plants by 32 percent by the year 2030. But climate deniers in Congress and in conservative states across the country are attacking these commonsense standards through every means possible, including their latest attempt to block the plan by tying it up in the courts.

Despite the efforts of leading climate deniers, two thirds of Americans support the Clean Power Plan, and a majority of Republican voters accept that climate change is occurring. Even power companies support moving ahead with the Clean Power Plan. In fact, a recent power industry survey found that 70 percent of utility executives would like to see the Clean Power Plan’s targets left in place or increased and its timetable remain unchanged.

BOTTOM LINE: The agreement signed in New York today represents a massive undertaking by the global community to protect our countries, our communities, and our children from the worst effects of climate change. Nothing is more critical to achieving that in the U.S. than the Clean Power Plan. Today’s agreement signals that the global community will not wait any longer to address the urgent issue of climate change. U.S. leadership has brought about a new era of international cooperation to address this issue, and the Clean Power Plan will ensure we continue that leadership for years to come.

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