Our climate is changing at an alarming rate and we’re already feeling the impacts. Storms are increasing in number and intensity, wildfires rage well beyond their historic season, and our rising oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic.
Climate change is a global danger that we can only curb with global action—and the Paris Agreement gives us the pathway to do just that.
The Paris Agreement is the first truly global commitment to fight the climate crisis. In 2015, 195 countries and the European Union signed on to a single, sweeping agreement that aims to keep global warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F)—and make every effort to go above 1.5°C (2.7°F). The landmark agreement succeeded where past attempts failed because it allowed each country to set its own emission reduction targets and adopt its own strategies for reaching them. In addition, nations—inspired by the actions of local and regional governments, businesses and others—came to recognize that fighting climate change brings significant socio-economic benefits.
National governments cannot meet this challenge alone. Fortunately, the Paris Agreement explicitly recognizes the role of local governments, businesses, investors, civil society, unions, faith, and academic institutions as critical to meeting the 1.5 °C goal.
Human-caused global warming will impact people, wildlife, and habitats everywhere. We need to come together and immediately and aggressively cut emissions to save the Earth as we know it. Recent reports from international climate scientists and the US federal government have underscored the severe risks of inaction. The difference between blowing past 1.5°C (2.7°F) of warming and reaching or exceeding 2°C (3.6°F) is stark; the risk of heatwaves, floods, ice-free Arctic summers, and habitat loss, and more increase every moment we don’t act.
Stopping the climate crisis is critical to our collective wellbeing, but no single country can stop the damage alone. The Paris Agreement is unprecedented in the near unanimity of nations it brought together on this issue and is the best way to secure the global cooperation needed to address climate change.
Countries have yet to finalize the rules of how the Paris Agreement will operate going forward and COP26, scheduled to take place in November 2021 in the United Kingdom, will allow countries to complete that job. WWF is working with American leaders committed to addressing the climate crisis to show at COP26 that the United States will do its part.