Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Day We Became One Planet

The New York Times:

LE BOURGET, France — With the sudden bang of a gavel Saturday night, representatives of 195 countries reached a landmark climate accord that will, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change.

Delegates who have been negotiating intensely in this Paris suburb for two weeks gathered for the final plenary session, where Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France asked for opposition to the deal and, hearing none, declared it approved.

With that, the delegates achieved what had been unreachable for two decades: a consensus on the need to shift from carbon-based fuels and a road map for the 195 nations to do so.

Though the deal did not achieve all that environmentalists, scientists and some countries had hoped for, it set the table for more efforts to slow the slide toward an unlivable planet.

It was an extraordinary effort at global diplomacy. Supporters argued that no less than the future of the planet was at stake...

The Washington Post:

LE BOURGET, France — Negotiators from 196 countries approved a landmark climate accord on Saturday that seeks to dramatically reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for a dangerous warming of the planet.

The agreement, adopted after 13 days of intense bargaining in a Paris suburb, puts the world’s nations on a course that could fundamentally change the way energy is produced and consumed, gradually reducing reliance on fossil fuels in favor of cleaner forms of energy.

“History will remember this day,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after the pact was gaveled through to thunderous applause. “The Paris agreement on climate change is a monumental success for the planet and its people.”

The deal was struck in a rare show of near-universal accord, as poor and wealthy nations from across the political and geographic spectrum expressed support for measures that require all to take steps to battle climate change. The agreement binds together pledges by individual nations to cut or limit emissions from fossil-fuel burning, within a framework of rules that provide for monitoring and verification as well as financial and technical assistance for developing countries."

The world is not saved yet.  There are many trials yet to come, and future generations will each cope with a world undergoing great change, much of it tragic diminishment. If the numbers play out as anticipated, much more will need to be done to address the causes as well as anticipating and dealing with effects. There are likely to be shocks and surprises ahead.  Those who say this pact is not enough are largely correct. There will be corrections, changes in speed needed.   But it is now Spaceship Earth, and it is turning onto a new course.

Notice how many times these stories and quotes within them refer to the planet.  This is more than an international accord--it is a planetary accord.  For the first time in human history, we are one planet, one planetary civilization, determined to save our planetary home.

In the Times' film clip of the final moments when the deal was officially struck, it had a revenge of the nerds feeling, for it was hammered out by people who deal with the nuances and technical aspects of diplomacy and science.  This is their triumph.

Both the Times and the Post stories are excellent, and worth reading in full.  The Post story links to the actual text of the agreement, and the Times has the first of what will likely be many articles around explaining the agreement. The Times continues:

Yet amid the spirit of success that dominated the final hours of the talks, Mr. Arias Cañete reminded delegates that the accord was the start of the real work. “Today, we celebrate,” he said. “Tomorrow, we have to act. This is what the world expects of us.”

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