COP24 Emerges with Global Consensus

Photo Courtesy of IISD/EN

I was pleasantly surprised to see the annual UN Climate Conference (COP24) end with nearly 200 countries, including the USA, agreeing to adopt a detailed set of rules to keep implement progress toward address climate change and follow uniform standards for measuring emissions.

Over the last two months, two major – and increasingly serious – reports on global warming were released, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and the U.S. National Climate Assessment, which was authored by 13 federal agencies including United States Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) , NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and NOAA: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned that the world is far off-track in its efforts to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming. In fact, we have as little as twelve years to limit climate change catastrophe according to the world’s leading experts. Time is running out for the urgent and drastic measures needed globally to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which floods, droughts, coral reef eradication, sea rise, and extreme heat will cause food scarcity and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. I share my thoughts on the U.S. National Climate Assessment in a previous post here.

Photo Courtesy of Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

While this climate agreement consummated in Poland in the heart of coal country appears to be significantly watered down (no pun intended) from what it could have been, the COP24 conference importantly re-energized the international community around a shared objective to solve an increasingly apparent global threat.

The fact is that in U.S. and other key regions – renewables are expanding rapidly at a rate of 10’s of GWs per year, while coal is declining at a similar pace (over 15 GW of capacity offline this year).  Other measures are clearly required, but this is still real progress on the ground.

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