Last month, leaders from around the world gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco to build on the tremendous achievement of the 2015 Paris Agreement during COP22. There, they recommitted to a collaborative target-driven effort to limit climate change. During the conference, 11 countries—including Italy, Japan, Malaysia, and Pakistan—ratified the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number up to 111, far more than the 55 countries covering 55 percent of global GHG emissions required to elevate the accord to international law. The United States, Canada, Mexico, and Germany released strategies for radically cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury. The U.S. report outlines plans to meet an 80 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2050, referencing an ambitious transition to a low-carbon energy system and innovative carbon storage and removal tactics.
Over the past year, the debate about what actions should be taken to halt climate change has continued in earnest. Involvement from experts, religious leaders, companies, activists, and consumers has reached a fever pitch, and governments have responded. The United States and China reached a historic agreement to curb emissions and promote renewable energy, which has led to advancements such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, and the world’s largest cap and trade program. The United Nations is ramping up for COP21—the 21st Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—and has included climate change in its new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were accepted in late September by all 193 member states.
Climate change is again trending as a topic within corporate citizenship and the larger business community. The release of Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si” (Be Praised), which highlights the impact developed economies are having on our planet and our responsibilities to act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, and the upcoming COP21—the 21st Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—are creating a buzz.