For a climate scientist who’s spent over a decade on the front lines, the Paris Agreement it is like finding out the biggest and most ambitious grant proposal of your career has been funded.
It limits warming not just to 2℃, but possibly 1.5℃; it sets a goal of bringing net emissions into balance within a matter of decades, not centuries; and it establishes the framework to provide tangible assistance to the poorest nations, including both finance and technology. This plan fulfils the vision of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: it will significantly reduce the risk dangerous human interference with the climate system.
As with an ambitious grant, though, euphoria will soon give way to speculation. Will we accomplish all we promised? And if so, how?
The Paris Agreement is not naïve: the majority of its 31 pages lays out the need for ongoing reporting, special IPCC reports, financing for the Green Climate Fund, even naming individual climate Champions, tasked with keeping the process moving. To succeed, it will need all the help it can get; but if it does, all of our work – in climate science, policy, impacts, law, communication, and many other fields – will have not been in vain.
That’s worth fighting for.
This blog was originally published at The Conversation, along with opinions from many other experts.