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Governments Set Course for Ambitious Action on Climate Change; More Immediate Steps Needed

By World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
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World governments finalized a global agreement today in Paris that lays a foundation for long-term efforts to fight climate change. More effort is needed to secure a path that would limit warming to 1.5C. This new agreement should be continuously strengthened and governments will need to go back home and deliver actions at all levels to close the emissions gap, resource the energy transition and protect the most vulnerable. The Paris talks also created a moment that produced announcements and commitments from governments, cities and business that signalled that the world is ready for a clean-energy transition.

Governments arrived in Paris on a wave of momentum with more than 180 countries bringing national pledges on climate action. This progress was bolstered by impassioned speeches from more than 150 heads of state and governments and unprecedented mobilisations around the world that included hundreds of thousands of citizens demanding action on climate change. After two weeks of negotiations, governments reached an agreement that represents some progress in the long-term. This must urgently be strengthened and complemented with accelerated action in the near-term if we are to have any hope of meeting the ultimate goal of limiting global warming well below 2C or 1.5C. Additionally, the finance for adaptation, loss and damage and scaled up emission reductions should be the first order of work after Paris.

While the Paris agreement would go into effect in 2020, science tells us that in order to meet the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5C or well below 2C, emissions must peak before 2020 and sharply decline thereafter. The current pledges will provide about half of what is needed, leaving a 12 to 16 gigatonne emissions gap.

Tasneem Essop, head of WWF delegation to the UN climate talks:

“The Paris agreement is an important milestone. We made progress here, but the job is not done. We must work back home to strengthen the national actions triggered by this agreement. We need to secure faster delivery of new cooperative efforts from governments, cities, businesses and citizens to make deeper emissions cuts, resource the energy transition in developing economies and protect the poor and most vulnerable. Countries must then come back next year with an aim to rapidly implement and strengthen the commitments made here.”

Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's global climate and energy initiative:

“We are living in a historic moment. We are seeing the start of a global transition towards renewable energy. At the same time, we're already witnessing irreversible impacts of climate change. The talks and surrounding commitments send a strong signal to everyone — the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. As climate impacts worsen around the world, we need seize on the current momentum and usher in a new era of cooperative action from all countries and all levels of society.”

Yolanda Kakabadse, president of WWF-International (www.WorldWildlife.org):

“The climate talks in Paris did more than produce an agreement — this moment has galvanized the global community toward large-scale collaborative action to deal with the climate problem. At the same time that a new climate deal was being agreed, more than 1,000 cities committed to 100 per cent renewable energy, an ambitious plan emerged from Africa to develop renewable energy sources by 2020, and India launched the International Solar Alliance, which includes more than 100 countries to simultaneously address energy access and climate change. These are exactly the kind of cooperative actions we need to quickly develop to complement the Paris agreement.”

The Paris agreement needed to be fair, ambitious and transformational. Results in these key areas for WWF were mixed:

For further information, contact: Mandy Jean Woods [email protected] / @MandyJeanWoods / +27 72 393 0027

About WWF (www.WorldWildlife.org) - WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. The Global Climate & Energy Initiative (GCEI) is WWF's global programme addressing climate change, promoting renewable and sustainable energy, scaling up green finance, engaging the private sector and working nationally and internationally on implementing low carbon, climate resilient development.