- Date: 2016-11-04
- Author: Jesus Chavez
Those of us who work on climate will never forget Paris. It’s been almost a year since Laurent Fabius announced to the world that we had secured the most comprehensive climate agreement in history. The landmark approval of the Paris Agreement last December took years in the making and became a turning point in the battle to protect our planet from runaway climate change. We can claim a victory, but the battle is far from over.
The Paris Agreement enters into force today, preceded by two significant milestones on climate action: a new deal to curb emissions from international aviation, and a second agreement to phase down the use of super-pollutant “hydrofluorocarbons”, used in air conditioners and refrigerators. We celebrate and take pride in our accomplishments, but also acknowledge the urgency of progressing towards our common goal of a carbon neutral and sustainable world. To that end, the UN talks that begin in Marrakech next week can and should build on this momentum of international climate cooperation, turning the promise of the Paris Agreement into concrete and urgent action.
Marrakech will be crucial in the global fight against climate change: it is the first post-Paris major climate event when the international community comes together to begin to develop the new rules for transparency, accountability and financing, among other vital topics for a successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. These much needed discussions about the fine print of the Paris Agreement will help create trust and confidence in this global endeavor and each other.
Marrakech will also serve as an important opportunity to show that the climate crisis will not be solved by governments alone; collaboration among businesses, cities, communities, individuals and governments is essential to speeding up the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy. The Marrakech talks can serve as an inspiring marketplace of ideas, where all actors will have an opportunity to showcase tangible progress on existing commitments and launch new efforts. Marrakech must also set the stage for ramping up ambition by all. We know that we are not yet on track to meet the Paris temperature goals, and that countries will need to ramp up their commitments. Marrakech must create the conditions for that to happen around a global dialogue due to take place in 2018.
This may seem distant and abstract to our daily lives, but climate change is a truly global challenge, and success in Marrakech means success for us in the United States. It doesn’t matter what your political orientation is, your religious views or to what socioeconomic group you belong to, climate change will affect us all, and tackling this issue is in the national interest. However, as it often happens, the most affected will be the most vulnerable. In the US that means the Latino population, which is already disproportionally affected: 30 million US Latinos live in California, Florida and Texas, the states hit the hardest by climate change. Furthermore, 50% of US Latinos live in the 25 most ozone polluted cities in the country. Climate change is a matter of social justice. Climate change is a matter of human rights.
But as usual, Latinos are not sitting down waiting for help to arrive. They are organizing and are increasingly vocal. Research shows that 84% of Latinos say that the US should mandate more clean energy sources like solar and wind, and 78% of US Latinos support state clean energy standards to prevent global warming and climate change.
There has never been a better time to take bold climate action. We have a ratified agreement that provides the path towards a carbon neutral and climate resilient world, robust political momentum, and an advancing technological field that systematically lowers the costs of producing clean energy around the world. Countries, cities, and businesses are decoupling their economic growth from their carbon footprint, and working in earnest to prepare themselves for the impacts of climate change. The transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy has begun, but it needs to be urgently accelerated. Accelerating this transition with clear rules and the involvement of all actors is what Marrakech is all about.
Some people say it doesn’t matter what one person does. But it matters. Look at the progress we’ve made. Everything we have achieved is the aggregate of small actions. We did this. Together. And we are just getting started.
We are in Marrakech. You are back home pushing for this momentum. It is all hands on deck. Let’s do this.