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Facing the inconvenient truth of the Paris agreement in Morocco

Thursday, November 3, 2016 8:27
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As negotiators prepare for the upcoming climate summit next week, some of the world’s leading scientists are reminding them – and us – of what we already knew: that we will not prevent climate chaos if we simply rely on the pledges made in the Paris Agreement.

The latest report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says climate action must start now.  And the pledges given by countries in Paris must be made much more ambitious before 2020. If we wait even a few years for a review of these pledges, the small chance we have of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C will be lost.
That temperature limit is the goal of the Paris Agreement – a temperature rise well below 2C and aiming for 1.5C.
Even the smaller rise would have climate impacts, though they would be less serious than the more-intense storms, longer droughts and sea-level rise that a 2C temperature rise would bring.  

So it is essential that all countries both improve their existing climate pledges for 2025 and 2030, and accelerate emissions cuts in the immediate future.
This is something that cannot wait. If action is delayed for another 10 years or so, it will be too late. We will have locked ourselves onto a path leading to dangerous levels of warming.
Taking action now to stop this happening is possible. As UNEP points out, many of the climate actions of the big economies are based on modest changes, business as usual scenarios – or even worse than business as usual scenarios.  So countries have not over-reached themselves – far from it. They can, and must, do better.

Greater action on energy efficiency alone could bridge much of the gap and would come with immediate benefits for people, like lower energy bills and warmer homes.

As negotiators prepare to travel to Morocco for the climate summit which will start turning the Paris Agreement from promises to action, they will need to face this challenge head on.  

And that means agreeing further measures for action now, as well as a plan for improving countries’ current 2025 and 2030 targets.

The next few years are critical. They are the years when we can choose between climate stability and climate chaos.  This is our only chance.  It must not be wasted. The world is ready and waiting for this change.

Kaisa Kosonen is the head of climate policy based at Greenpeace Nordic


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