As Other Global Crises Collide, Nations Converge to Address Climate Change
A global community of nations, including the government of Brazil, have endorsed a sweeping agreement on climate change, a step forward in the struggle for global action on a warming planet.
BRASILIA, Brazil — When the world first became aware of the perils posed by climate change, the scientific community was united in recognizing it as one of the greatest challenges humanity has yet faced.
It had not occurred to them that they were the cause of climate change. And some people still deny there is a problem with climate change, even while others are trying to explain to people what the scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates.
But scientists and climate advocates know that the world’s leading greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to the growing temperatures. Climate change is being driven by our collective actions, and that is true whether we acknowledge it or not. Our actions can’t be reversed. The best we can do is try to mitigate their consequences.
It did not occur to the world in the early 2000s that the world’s leading greenhouse gas emissions were contributing to the growing temperatures. It didn’t occur to the world until the planet’s hottest years, since the world’s biggest coal and gas plants came online. It didn’t occur until the world moved to its most recent top of the world, including the highest annual world temperature, by far. And it didn’t occur until the world changed its policies on energy development and trade.
By most measures, we’re where we are. But climate scientists say this period could mark the tipping point on the future of our planet. The consequences of that tipping point are the most difficult ones they’ve ever had to study.
The Climate Policy Framework
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or U.N.F.C.C., requires that developed nations set their own goal for emissions reductions, a goal they must get to by 2020 or 2100. They are also required to make sure that emissions are reduced enough to