The signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on April 22nd was a crucial step in the global effort to meet head on one of the defining challenges of our time.
Among other provisions, the agreement establishes a global framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sets a goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels.
“The Paris agreement was a critical milestone,” said Secretary of State John Kerry at a recent visit to Oslo, Norway. “But everybody knows that what we did in Paris does not guarantee a cap on a 2 degrees centigrade rise in temperature.”
What does help reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and therefore helps lower temperatures, are forests. Trees trap carbon dioxide and store it as they grow. But when they die, whether by logging or burning, they release the gas back into the atmosphere.
That is why the United States and Norway signed an agreement to work together to help slow climate change through forest protection. Thus, the two countries pledged to, for example, strengthen their efforts to fight illegal logging.
“The more that governments like ours can do to reinforce the commitments that we made in Paris, the more we will amplify the message that was sent to all sectors of the globe,” said Secretary of State Kerry:
“Together with the help of partners around the world, we will better preserve the landscapes that provide not only food, fuel, the fibers that our communities need, but also the climate mitigation and resilience benefits that are absolutely critical to our future.”
“What we are doing here is helping to keep faith with Paris, it’s helping to keep faith with common sense, and it’s helping to keep faith with the best hopes and aspirations of people in our countries,” said Secretary of State Kerry.
“I pledge the strongest possible support of the United States of America for actions that will safeguard our health and safeguard our planet for generations to come.”