COLUMBUS – Some Ohoans were on hand this month in Paris as global leaders mapped out a blueprint for the future to reduce the damaging impacts of climate change.
Cathy Becker of Grove City was a member of the Sierra Club delegation at the U.N. Climate Change Conference. After her time spent among other activists, students, business leaders, lawmakers, indigenous groups and faith organizations, she said she now sees that the world is ready for climate action.
“It was just really refreshing,” she said. “The debate wasn’t whether it’s happening or whether we can do something about it – it’s what to do about it, and how to do it, and what our ultimate goals are.”
She said she believes the accord is truly historic because it involves 195 countries agreeing to make their own steps to lower emissions, and then revisit their contributions every five years. In the past, attempts at global climate accords held just 10 major nations responsible.
The accord seeks to limit rising temperatures to within 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Becker said leaders also listened to a call from some small island countries threatened by rising sea levels to include a possible limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, which she called “a really high bar.
“We will have to convert lots of fossil fuels very quickly to meet 1.5, but that is the de facto target at this point,” she said., “That was a surprise there was just so much momentum going into this that countries, basically a lot of them, agreed to this.”
Another notable moment, Becker said, was a pledge by 1,000 mayors to go 100 percent renewable by 2050.
“The UN said about 75 percent of carbon emissions are on the local level, so cities can make a huge, huge difference,” she said. “So I would encourage any local leaders in Ohio to take a look at that and take a look at their cities and see what they can do.”
Becker said climate discussions did not just focus on the transition away from the use of fossil fuels, but also the need to address justice and democracy in climate action by helping those in the developing world access clean energy.