While the Paris Agreement ultimately aims to cap global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius in this century, many studies evaluating the voluntary pledges individual countries made in Paris show that the cumulative effect of those emissions reductions won’t be large enough to keep temperatures under that cap. Indeed, the targets countries laid out are expected to limit future temperature rise to between 2.7 and 3.7 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, current evaluations of how countries are performing in the context of their Paris climate goals indicate some nations are already falling short of their commitments.
However, it’s important to remember the Paris Agreement isn’t static. Instead, it’s designed to boost countries’ national efforts over time—meaning that current commitments represent the floor, not the ceiling, of climate change ambition. The heavy lifting—reining in emissions even further by 2030 and 2050—still needs to be done, and the accord provides the tools to ensure that happens.
Reflecting the collective belief of nearly every nation on earth that climate change is humanity’s war to fight, the Paris Agreement exposes America’s climate skeptics—including Trump—as global outliers. In fact, the mobilization of support for climate action across the country and the world provides hope that the Paris Agreement marked a turning point in the fight against climate change. We can all contribute to the cause by seeking opportunities to slash global warming contributions—at the individual, local, and national levels. The effort will be well worth the reward of a safer, cleaner world for future generations.
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