Opinion: This Earth Day, a global climate transformation is underway

Photo credit: World Wildlife Found (WWF)

By World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Every year since 1970, Earth Day has connected people through their love and passion for our planet. While its focus has shifted over the years to address the preeminent environmental causes of the time — polluted waters in the 1970s, concerns about ozone in the 1980s, clean air and recycling in the 90s, and renewable energy and climate change this century — Earth Day has provided an annual moment in which all people can rally behind efforts to protect our planet.
But Earth Day 2016 is going to be a little bit different. On Friday, millions will raise their collective voices as part of a global call to action, just as they’ve done for the past 36 years. But this time they will also witness our leaders taking real action to address those problems as more than 160 countries will convene at the United Nations to officially sign the Paris Agreement — a far-reaching global accord that unites our entire planet around efforts to tackle climate change.
Momentum is building and our leaders are listening. It’s time for international leaders to deliver on the promise of Paris.
While signatures on paper aren’t enough to curb planet-warming emissions, they are a real-world example of the growing political momentum behind the type of ambitious actions needed to stave off the most dire effects of climate change. And that momentum is strong, and growing. Since last Earth Day, we’ve seen some dramatic examples of an environmental movement that is picking up pace and moving beyond the activist community. Local governments, businesses and entire nations are taking planetary sustainability more seriously and together, taking the bold steps needed to ensure its future.
Look around, the examples are everywhere. Last summer, President Obama put in place the Clean Power Plan, a national strategy that curbs our reliance on dirty fossil fuels, keeps our air cleaner and slashes total US emissions by a third. Hundreds of major companies urged utilities and power providers to improve access to large-scale renewable energy so they can power their businesses fossil-free. Local governments across the US demonstrated to their international peers how they are slashing emissions and preparing their communities for the impacts of climate change. And just last month, millions of individuals from 178 nations celebrated Earth Hour, calling on international leaders to #ChangeClimateChange, making the 2016 event the biggest celebration for our planet ever.
And most importantly is the Paris Agreement. In December, 196 nations came together and agreed that we must act on climate, demonstrating an unprecedented commitment to keep global warming to well below 2C or even 1.5 degrees.
In signing the Paris Agreement, international leaders sent a clear signal that the transformation of the global economy to low-emission, climate-resilient growth is inevitable, beneficial, and already under way.
Now they need to deliver. To keep global warming to minimal levels, we cannot afford to wait for another three or four Earth Days to pass. We need to take immediate steps to scale-up actions, to get out of fossil fuels and into renewables, to reduce emissions from international aviation and shipping, to protect forests, and to change investments from dirty to clean. Delay is not an option.

Think about our shared home 20, 30 or even 100 Earth Days from now — what will this planet look like without immediate action? As we ponder that question, one thing is certain; if we are going to change climate change, it will take everyone. On Earth Day, as global leaders put pen to paper to formalize the Paris Agreement, the world is watching and must be prepared to unite in collective action as we continue our global climate transformation.

First published by World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
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2 responses to “Opinion: This Earth Day, a global climate transformation is underway

  1. Yeah, it's scary to think about what our world will look like in 100 years if we don't stop talking and start doing. Taking care of the planet is more than that fuzzy warm feeling we get, it takes some sweat, blood and tears. I'm glad they're finally starting to move forward.

    Like

  2. A friend of mine went to the Antarctica for an awareness expedition. She said that ice was breaking off from the shelf EVERY day and now she has come back home to share with everyone that action must happen now.

    Like

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