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Base of the Eiffel Tower lit up with the message that everyone can help reduce emissions. Taken during the COP21 in Paris (2015).
Paris Climate Agreement Base of the Eiffel Tower lit up with the message that everyone can help reduce emissions. Taken during the COP21 in Paris (2015). © Madeline Van Tassel / TNC

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Media Statement: Paris, je t’aime – but to beat climate change, we need Glasgow to be an even bigger success

As the world marks 5th anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreement, The Nature Conservancy calls for a redoubling of efforts on climate change

Five years ago, 196 countries agreed on the most ambitious plan to address climate change and global warming the planet had ever seen at the UN COP21 Climate Conference in Paris. As we reflect on the progress achieved in lowering global carbon emissions over the subsequent five years, experts from The Nature Conservancy are cautiously encouraged by recent signs that world leaders are finally starting to grasp the full seriousness of the climate emergency.

“Science shows us that, despite the commitments made since Paris, globally emissions continue to rise. This trend towards a world with more than two degrees Celsius of global warming is one that is unacceptable for the health and safety of our planet,” says Elizabeth Gray, Global Managing Director for Climate for The Nature Conservancy. 

“However, I am optimistic because the toolbox of actions and solutions now available to countries and companies to address climate has never been deeper or better understood than it is today. From the recent decision to regulate and reduce emissions from international aviation; to the surging supply of renewable energy, which now rivals traditional power sources in many geographies; to the incorporation of natural climate solutions such as reforestation, improved farming practices, and wetland protection; we’re seeing multiple pathways towards a carbon neutral future that can accessed right now.

“Many of those pathways can come from solutions rooted in nature, which offer some of the best ways to address the planetary emergency. Nature-based solutions can help to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural ecosystems, such as tropical forests, in ways that address a number of societal challenges, simultaneously benefitting human well-being and biodiversity. Nature’s transformative power should be valued and incorporated into all levels of decision-making, especially concerning climate action.

“It’s really noticeable how this conversation has grown over the five years since COP21 – in Paris, biodiversity was a peripheral part of the negotiations at best. Five years down the line, we now understand more than ever that climate change and nature loss are effectively two sides of the same coin, and that these inextricably connected planetary challenges cannot be solved in isolation.”

As world leaders gather virtually to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement at the UK Climate Ambition Summit, Gray sees opportunities to learn from what worked in Paris and build on that success for next year’s equally crucial UN Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

“We need to see strong leadership from all nations, especially those with the largest carbon footprints,” Gray says. “A big part of what made the Paris Agreement possible was the French government’s tireless efforts beforehand to build early consensus between some of the largest emitting nations, long before the summit itself had started. Given even stronger goals and workable action plans need to come out of the Glasgow COP, it’s crucial that the UK government and its partners start laying the groundwork now that will enable the transformational change we need to see in Scotland next December. 

"If they can make this happen then perhaps, come 2025, we’ll be looking back at COP26 in Glasgow with the same reverence currently reserved for Paris.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.