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WWF on COP21: Leaders Have a Chance to Make History

Ahead of President Obama's speech at the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Lou Leonard, vice president, climate change:

“Global leaders, including President Obama, will land in Paris riding a wave of historic progress in the fight against climate change. More than 160 countries representing over 90% of global emissions will come to the negotiating table with emissions reduction pledges. This is a big deal and shows that the road to Paris has already delivered important results.

“Yet, there’s more work to be done. These pledges provide about half of what the world needs to keep global warming below the 1.5-2°C threshold, which the best science tells us we must avoid in order to prevent the worst impacts. But there is still time for leaders to leave Paris with a clear plan to close the emissions gap and protect the vulnerable. All of the elements are already on the table to create this plan.

“Ultimately, a global agreement in Paris will matter in the real world if it can accelerate the transformation that is already happening thanks to soaring renewable energy markets, commitments by leading businesses, and action by cities, communities and individuals.

“The world is ready to move. The pieces are in place for leaders to lead. It is now up to them to think big and deliver a deal that charts a course to a safer future. In the wake of the largest global mobilization of people calling for climate action this weekend, governments have the backing they need to go further.

“As the largest contributor to current climate changes, leadership from the United States will be a critical ingredient to any success. The recent drumbeat of domestic climate action gives the US unprecedented credibility entering the talks. But to lead internationally, the United States will need to demonstrate its commitment to support poorer countries and to contribute to closing the emissions gap.”

In order to maximize the outcome in Paris, a new global agreement should:

  1. Establish a clear long-term goal to move away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy and sustainable land use;
  2. Create a plan to close the ambition gap, including finance and other support to accelerate action beyond current pledges;
  3. Deliver support to vulnerable countries to limit climate impacts and address unavoidable damage.

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