Fred Krupp organized the first Earth Day celebration at Verona High School in 1970. For the last 30 years, he has been president of the Environmental Defense Fund, which has rallied science and economics to find national and international solutions for cleaner air, water, ecosystems and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Today, Krupp was in Paris to witness the historic signing of a global pact to slow climate change by nearly every country on the planet. This is the VHS alumni’s statement on that agreement:
“We have reached a transformative moment in the long struggle to get serious about climate change. The final text of the Paris agreement deserves to be adopted by the COP today. The agreement will send a powerful, immediate signal to global markets that the clean energy future is open for business.
“It makes a moral call for dramatic action that leaves no one behind, and it moves us closer to the crucial turning point when global carbon emissions, which have been rising for more than two centuries, finally begin to decline.
“Paris begins a new, more ambitious chapter in the history of climate action. The era of delay is over. We’re in the race of our lives — and we’re acting on that knowledge.
“If this breakthrough happens, it will be because the nations of the world — developed and developing, north and south, large and small — moved beyond the old excuses for delay and pledged substantial cuts in the pollution that is damaging our climate. While the Paris commitments won’t deliver all the emissions reductions that are needed, the agreement provides a framework to ratchet up ambition over time: a transparent system for reporting and review, regular assessments of progress, and strengthening of commitments every five years beginning in 2020.
“These provisions and related language on ‘cooperative approaches’ are critical and should not be overlooked. They open the door for the powerful role markets must play in driving emissions down and innovation up. What is most promising about this deal is that it matches ambition with accountability by outlining a credible, transparent process for cooperative climate action among national and subnational groups. Because the agreement explicitly forbids double-counting of emissions reductions, governments and markets can move forward with confidence.”
“Now our work must turn to meeting — and strengthening — these commitments. The agreement relies on each nation to enact its own policies to reduce emissions while ensuring that their progress can be monitored by all. We look forward to each country’s work to both meet and build on their pledges in order to finish the hard work of protecting future generations.
“The delegates in Paris have delivered several big wins for the climate. Others include:
- An affirmation of the critical role of tropical forests in addressing climate change. The agreement includes an explicit reference to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, known as REDD+. The methodological framework for REDD+ was already in place coming into Paris, but this agreement gives a valuable high-level signal for nations to move forward in implementing and scaling up REDD+.
- An agreement to mobilize funds for climate finance, from a wide variety of public and private sources, building on the commitment made in Copenhagen and doubling the U.S. commitment to adaptation finance. This funding will help developing nations get on the clean energy path and creates an enormous business opportunity for the renewable energy industry in the U.S., China and elsewhere.
- An explicit recognition of the need to turn the corner on global emissions. The Agreement states, “Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.” Analysis by the International Energy Agency shows that with concerted effort this crucial turning point can be reached by 2020. The Paris commitments don’t reach this turning point, but the ratcheting up of ambition in coming years can and must do so.
“As French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said today, citing Nelson Mandela, ‘None of us, acting alone, can be successful.’ We can only be successful by working together.
“This agreement is the culmination of years of behind-the-scenes diplomacy by President Obama and Secretary Kerry, both of whom worked overtime in the final days to help deliver this historic breakthrough. They deserve a great deal of credit — as do our French hosts and leaders from the E.U., China, Canada, Peru, New Zealand, and around the world. Their focus, commitment and hard work has been indispensable, and they have my personal thanks.”
—Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund