Climate Literacy

December 16, 2015
By: Janet Brown, Associate Director

High Ambition

IMG_3389In the final days of the COP21 climate negotiations, a High Ambition Coalition emerged. The European Union joined with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific to push for an “ambitious, durable and legally binding” deal with a strong review every five years. They were joined by the next day by the United States, Norway, Mexico, and Columbia, and eventually grew to over 100 countries from both wealthy and developing nations by the end of the week.

Throughout the final hours of negotiations, this coalition worked tirelessly to advocate for what Tony DeBrum, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, described as “some very basic issues.”

  • Strong recognition of the 1.5 degree Celsius global temperature goal
  • A five-year ratcheting mechanism
  • A clear pathway to a low-carbon future
  • Financial support for developing countries, including an annual commitment of $100 billion

IMG_3100These climate allies were recognized as putting pressure on their fellow negotiators to secure the first-ever international climate agreement with almost 200 countries. And it worked. The Paris Agreement, finalized on Saturday, gives us a much-needed foundation upon which to build our efforts.

Having worked on climate change issues for over a decade, I know that this is when the work truly begins. It is going to take all of us giving our best to make a 1.5 degree goal a reality . Will Steger has described those critical times in an expedition when you need everyone to be at their very best in order to survive. We are at that moment now.

IMG_3359It’s going to take business, government, non-profits, philanthropy, financial institutions, clean energy companies, educators, youth and every one of us to be our own high ambition coalition. I am grateful to have been witness to the diverse array of humanity that came together in Paris to raise their collective voices for action. But I am even more excited to see what we can do going forward, all pulling together.