Transforming Our World: Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted In Paris

December 12, 2015 by islandersvoice1


Transforming Our World: Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted In Paris

By Linda Lyshall, Executive Director, San Juan Islands Conservation District

Today is an historic day for the future of our global society. After years of scientific research, climate policy discussions, and political activism, over 190 countries have voted unanimously to approve the Climate Accord. For the past two weeks at the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, leaders from around the world have negotiated an agreement that will stem the magnitude of climate change. While there are compromises, and critics say that the agreement does not go far enough, this is a very positive step towards addressing climate change.

See the following post for the Climate Accord fact sheet issued today by the White House.
“This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of, a climate advocacy group, told The Huffington Post. “But it’s possible that it saves the chance of saving the planet – if movements push even harder from here on out.”

The agreement is 31 pages long, but one of the most critical sections is Article 2, page 21:

“This Agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention, including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by:

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature 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, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, to foster climate resilience, and to lower greenhouse gas emissions development, all in a manner that does not threaten food production;

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development.”

This is a globally significant event. For the first time, governments around the world, rich and poor, have collaborated in a meaningful effort to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and adapt to changes. The realization of the magnitude of this environmental crisis has finally become mainstream across the globe and has served as the impetus for change.

The Climate Accord will influence our national, state, and local policies. The activities and outcomes from these policies will include mitigation efforts that seek to reduce and sequester carbon emissions. We will likely see increased emphasis on renewable energy, especially in areas where coal is the primary fuel source. We will also likely see an increase in electric transportation and an increase in sustainable practices in large-scale agriculture, which can greatly contribute to carbon sequestration.

Addressing climate change can seem overwhelming to most of us, but there are very tangible activities we can all participate in. One of the best ways for us to understand how we personally contribute to climate change is to look at a carbon footprint calculator. There are several free applications on the internet. Most of the carbon footprint from our region comes from transportation, and secondarily from heating with fossil fuels.

Driving gas-powered cars and heating our homes with propane or oil are areas that we can address. Electric vehicles are very accessible, operating costs are less expensive than a gas-powered car, and the driving range on a single charge is ideal for the islands. For homes heated with propane or oil, an excellent alternative is an energy efficient heat-pump. This will reduce carbon emissions and energy bills.

For local resources about how you can address climate change, there is a talk tomorrow morning(Sunday, December 13) at 10:30 am at the Mullis Center, Transforming Our World by Linda Lyshall of the San Juan Islands Conservation District (SJICD). You can also check out a video of a presentation at Brickworks in October, sponsored by the SJICD and OPALCO, of climate scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Daniel Kammen discussing global climate activities and what we can we do locally to address climate change.

In the weeks and months to come, we will see an increased awareness of climate change world-wide and an increased emphasis for us all to take action. This requires every country, and especially the largest emitters, to make changes. The good news is these changes will not only help to address climate change, they will also help to improve air quality and promote long-term sustainability. We only have one planet and we are all in this together.

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