BY Molly Rauch ON April 22, 2016
A replica of the Eiffel Tower at the UN Climate Negotiations in Paris, December 2015
Today, on Earth Day, Secretary of State John Kerry, joined more than 150 nations to formally sign the Paris climate agreement at the United Nations. This marks a turning point in the climate movement – the beginning of a new path toward a renewable-energy-powered civilization.
Last December, I joined thousands from around the world to observe the UN climate change negotiations in Paris. What happened there – hammering out a global agreement among almost every nation of the world – was both unprecedented and inadequate. It was necessary, but not sufficient, to address climate change.
Going to Paris, and participating in the global conversation about the urgency of climate action, was in some ways, the realization of a dream for me. Bringing the stories of Moms Clean Air Force members to the nations of the world felt like the most important thing I could possibly do for my three children. I was there to join parents, faith leaders, scientists, community leaders, native peoples, the poor and the rich, to help protect our health and future – for the sake of our children. I was there in honor of not only the people we cherish most in our hearts, but also the places we love, and the healing, wholesome possibilities of clean air, abundant food, and prosperous nations. I was there to call for a new way, and real solutions, stat.
But in other ways, despite the thrill of witnessing the international process (and the pleasures of doing it in Paris), it was a let down. Experts tell us that the global pact is just not enough. It won’t happen fast enough. It won’t stave off a cascade of escalating global impacts. The agreement set a goal of limiting global average warming to no more than 2°C, and aiming for below 1.5°C – and the pledges that were submitted are insufficient to achieve this goal. Plus, it’s unenforceable.
And then, in the months since the Paris agreement was formalized in December, there were some reality checks. The SoCalGas gusher in Aliso Canyon, which leaked stunning quantities of methane directly into the atmosphere, driving up our nation’s dangerous climate pollution at the same time as climate negotiators burned the midnight oil in Paris. The Supreme Court stay of America’s Clean Power Plan, which temporarily halted implementation of the most significant effort to fight climate pollution that our nation has ever undertaken. The warmest year on record, officially, in 2015, plus three straight months of global record-blasting scorchers.
I could go on, but I won’t.
It is a seesaw. That’s what it means right now to have your eyes open to the climate crisis.
So, seesaw acknowledged. Today we are on an upswing. Be Here Now, right? The Earth Day signing of the Paris agreement is a major victory for everyone who raised her voice about this crisis. Thank you for joining us, for being part of our community, and for the role that you played in this important moment.
Cheers. For the first time, the world’s nations have agreed to reduce our collective climate pollution. (Tweet this) And: This agreement has to be a foundation for the much stronger action we will need in the next decade.
What does that mean here at home? We should turbocharge our transition to a clean energy economy. We should implement America’s Clean Power Plan, which sets the first ever limits on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants, and is the biggest single step the U.S. has taken to address climate change.
If you are reading these words – if you are breathing this air, and living in this time – you are part of this crisis, you are living through it, and you also have the power to stop it. The momentum that created the Paris agreement came from you. You are the key to demanding that countries be even more ambitious and accountable, even faster.
Climate change is real, it’s happening now, and our window of opportunity is closing. Raise a glass, yes, but make sure it has a shot of good French espresso in it.
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