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The Paris agreement reached the requisite number of signatories as studies continue to confirm that greenhouse gas emissions are still skyrocketing. (Photo: Joe Brusky/flickr/cc)

As Paris Treaty Hits Threshold, Climate Groups Demand Bolder Action

Calls for action come as renowned economist warns that global economy is set to "self-destruct" if the world continues burning fossil fuels

Nadia Prupis

The landmark Paris climate treaty finalized last year has reached the requisite number of signatories and is set to go into effect in 30 days—but environmentalists are not planning to let world leaders simply pat themselves on the back.

The European Union on Wednesday became the latest body to sign onto the agreement, which requires nations to take measures to keep global temperatures from rising 1.5°C, a threshold which climate experts say the planet is already on track to reach.

In a televised address, U.S. President Barack Obama described the accord as "the best possible shot to save the one planet we've got," and said, "If we follow through on the commitments that this Paris agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet."

However, the announcement comes as a slew of new studies find greenhouse gas emissions are still skyrocketing, fossil fuel use has made the world hotter than it's been in 115,000 years, and the Earth will warm 2°C or higher in a decade absent radical, systemic change. Likewise, renowned climate scientist James Hansen warned Thursday that the Paris agreement will not solve climate change.

So a broad array of watchdogs—from the environment to the business sector—say they are not going to let world leaders off the hook.

"The true test begins now: how will governments live up to their obligations and do their fair share?"
—Tamar Lawrence-Samuel,
Corporate Accountability International

"A legally binding international climate deal is a vital step, but this is no time to stop and pat ourselves on the back. Scientists have warned that we have already passed a key threshold, and people across the globe are facing killer floods and droughts. What matters most is action now, rather than later," said Asad Rehman, a campaigner for the U.K.-based environmental group Friends of the Earth International.

Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, associate research director at Corporate Accountability International, also said, "The true test begins now: how will governments live up to their obligations and do their fair share?"

Wealthy countries like the U.S. "are responsible for this crisis yet are not doing their fair share to cut emissions and support the just transition from fossil fuels," Lawrence-Samuel said. "And we know why—the fossil fuel industry is interfering in climate policymaking to suit its interests. A critical first step in solving the climate crisis must be protecting policymaking from fossil fuel industry interference. Parties must kick big polluters out."

To that end, on Thursday, a major new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate called on world leaders and financial institutions to invest in sustainable infrastructure to make the renewables sector viable against fossil fuels.

"Yesterday the Paris agreement reached the required number of countries and emissions to enter into force," said commission chair and former president of Mexico Felipe Calderón. "We have agreed on a global climate agenda, now we should act on it. Investing in sustainable infrastructure is the wisest decision we can take for our future. Not only can it deliver on the goals of the Paris agreement it is also the best growth path forward."

Commission member and renowned economist Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, who helped make climate change a global priority with a 2006 cost analysis, also warned Thursday that the global economy is set to "self-destruct" if the world continues burning fossil fuels.

Investment in renewable energy "will set off innovation, discovery, much more creative ways of doing things," he said. "This is the story of growth, which is the only one available because any attempt at high-carbon growth would self-destruct."

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'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·

Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·

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