What’s the biggest reason to be hopeful about the climate at the end of 2015?


Climate Central got answers from the following climate experts:
David Titley, director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk: Paris, of course, but more substantively for the U.S. domestic movement is the sense more and more different groups are seeing climate change as an issue within their domain: big business, insurance and finance, multiple major religions, the divestment movement, health, national security, movies, and the media, as well as the traditional science and environmental communities. Ultimately, we have to have enough people care enough to get Congress to engage constructively and move both policies and money to transition our energy systems to non-carbon based forms as quickly as possible. Huge task, but if we’re focused we can do this.

Richard Somerville, professor emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography: The biggest reason to be hopeful about the climate at the end of 2015 is the Paris Agreement reached in December 2015 at the COP21 negotiations in Paris. This agreement provides a roadmap to reducing the risk of dangerous climate change. However, when all is said and done, sometimes more is said than done, and the future of the climate system depends on the degree to which nations obey the letter and spirit of this roadmap and work to improve it.

Marshall Shepherd, director of atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia: I am encouraged that the notion that climate change is a political issue is starting to erode. Key conservatives, major corporations, the military and faith communities recognize the challenges and opportunities. The recent Paris agreement is a bold step. It isn’t perfect, but it is an important signal.

Simon Donner, climate scientist at the University of British Columbia: We’ve thrown down the gauntlet. In Paris, the world agreed that greenhouse gas emissions must reach net zero during the second half of the century to avoid dangerous impacts from climate change. With global emissions peaking this year, and wind and solar prices at all time lows, there’s hope we can meet the ambition of Paris with action. [Continue reading…]

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