If we act on climate change now, a safer and more prosperous future is within our grasp. Later this month, heads of state from around the world will gather in Paris to decide whether to actively work toward that prosperous future or whether to keep the status quo and hope for the best.
There is scientific consensus that to avoid the most disastrous impacts of climate change, the world can only withstand an increase in temperatures of two degrees Celsius. Keeping emissions in check enough to avoid greater warming will be a challenge, but this is by no means a doom-and-gloom scenario.
More than 150 countries responsible for 90% of global emissions have already made national climate commitments to slash their carbon pollution. We’re seeing great progress heading into the Paris talks, and these commitments put us in an excellent starting place.
But these commitments are the floor, not the ceiling, of what must be negotiated in Paris. Currently, the national climate commitments only take us halfway to the emission reductions needed to stay within that two-degree-limit. A large gap remains, and our work isn’t finished until that gap is closed.
With offices in more than 100 nations, WWF is uniquely situated to connect peoples, communities and governments toward bridging this gap. We have and will continue to actively participate in climate negotiations up to and through Paris, urging leaders, businesses, and communities not to settle for the status quo.
Closing the gap will mean a concerted global effort from everyone. We need more ambition from governments, but we will also need collaborative actions from business, cities, communities and individuals around the world. Leaders in all these areas are showing us the path forward—businesses are switching to renewable energy; cities are rethinking everything from waste disposal, transportation, and energy use to meet aggressive emissions reductions targets; and communities and individuals are finding that simple actions to save the planet can also be beneficial to their health and pocketbooks.
We have to make sure that these innovators are not alone. Saving the planet needs to be a trend so popular that it becomes a way of life. The UN climate talks have the potential to spark this kind of collective action and put everyone on the path to a clean energy future. To do that, they first have to make robust commitments. And then, they must back their commitments with enough money to build resilient communities and help the most vulnerable nations and people adapt to climate change.
We are all headed to the future. If we get there together with cooperation, empathy, hard work, and follow-through—we’ll all be headed to a much brighter place.
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