World leaders reached an historic agreement in Paris moments ago, capping off the COP21 climate talks with a unanimous deal among 195 countries to curb global warming pollution and hasten the clean energy transition. The gavel just fell on the Paris Agreement, and it's time to celebrate.
Is it enough to please everyone? No. Will people continue to suffer from climate-charged extreme weather events? Yes. But today is a welcome change from previous summit failures.
It’s a big deal whenever 195 countries agree on anything, and that’s exactly what’s happened here today. 195 nations, from the richest to the poorest, agreed to pave the road to the end of fossil fuels.
This agreement sends a strong signal to politicians and the markets that it’s time to immediately escalate the transition to renewable energy and end the reign of fossil fuels which have polluted not only the planet but also democracies the world over.
Let there be no doubt that unacceptable compromises were made here in Paris, and much work remains to strengthen this agreement on the critical issues of human rights, finance for countries that must adapt to the inevitable and ongoing impacts, and other critical issues.
Sea levels will continue to rise and the world must assist those climate refugees who have been and will be displaced by climate chaos. The poorest, most vulnerable nations must be adequately financed to protect their people.
As a result of this agreement, we can move from a sense of total failure towards guarded optimism that we’re on the right path.
This reminds me of the feeling I had on the night of Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. My wife and I hosted a party for friends to watch the results, and as we cheered Obama’s victory, I turned to my brother and said that it was fine to celebrate tonight but tomorrow we had to wake up and start holding him accountable for all the promises he’d made during the campaign.
This Paris deal is no different.
Today, there will be celebration. But tomorrow, the hard work must begin to hold leaders accountable for the promises made here, and to continue to strengthen this agreement because much was lost to compromise.
There are many more miles to travel to break free from fossil fuels entirely, and to ensure justice is done to hold those accountable for the damage they knowingly caused. Those such as ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers — who actively sowed doubt to confuse the public and bought off politicians to delay action — must be held to account.
That important work is already underway, and will need broad public pressure.
The historic agreement today in Paris sends the right signal to the world.