At the end of the Paris Conference of Parties meeting #21 on Dec. 12, spontaneous celebrations around the globe marked the mood of relief that political leaders from 187 countries had just agreed to acknowledge responsibility for turning the climate change ship around. The significance of this agreement at the two-week COP21 climate summit in Paris cannot be overstated. Given the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the smart money will now bet on clean energy for future investment.
Locally, Olympic Climate Action (OCA) members are having a mixed reaction but all are proud to have rallied two weeks ago—when COP21 began—in support of a strong outcome. Here are some reactions from OCA members:
Ida Fintel: Worldwide political agreement would have been impossible even 10 years ago!
Anita Matthay: I’m encouraged that leaders not only agreed to hold global warming to 2 degrees—but they agreed to set the target for 1½ degrees. This is a very good sign.
Janet Marx: Although there is much to clarify and define in the future, we finally have agreement among developed and developing countries with high CO2 emissions and poor countries who suffer the most from climate change.
Ed Chadd: American leadership surpassed that which had been shown at prior conferences, and was probably as much as we can expect given the makeup of our current Congress, which attempted to undercut American leadership every step of the way.
Bob Sextro: While solid progress was made in Paris, the real test will be the follow-up meetings that the parties agreed to in 2018 and 2020.
David James: Politics aside, it will be years before anyone can assess whether Paris was the beginning of a real effort to confront climate change or a stupid waste of time. By 2050, when we are to be carbon neutral, there will be at least 2.3 billion more people on the planet clamoring for energy. So, if you have been paddling, paddle harder.
Brian Grad: The issue of ‘Climate Change Reparations’ may never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, so it remains to be seen if any agreement will continue to move the investment needle towards the green side of the dial. That is why groups like OCA must continue our work to keep promoting a vision of clean, sustainable energy for now and in our future.
While a scent of relief is in the air, OCA sees the need for continued activism:
• To get elected officials on board to solve the climate crisis or to elect those who will.
• To switch from incentives for fossil fuels to incentives for clean energy.
• To put a price on greenhouse-gas pollution.
• To push for adoption and implementation of the North Olympic Peninsula climate action plans already available and more ambitious plans going forward.