The Paris Agreement: Local activists say more can be done to combat climate change


Nearly 200 nations have adopted an "ambitious" and historic climate agreement following days of discussions in France. The Paris Agreement comes on the same day local activists called for more action in Minnesota.

The "landmark" deal made Saturday is a "historic breakthrough" in international efforts to address climate change, the New York Times says. The accord isn't expected to solve global warming, the paper explains, but it's a step, and also a signal that the world is shifting away from coal, oil and gas to zero-carbon energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear power.

Among the goals of the Paris Agreement is keeping the global temperature increase at less than 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

If that's achieved, scientists say it would ward off some of the worst effects of climate change, like rising sea levels, severe droughts and flooding, food and water shortages and more destructive storms, the New York Times says. (The paper has an easy-to-read breakdown of the Paris Agreement that includes explanations on how it's expected to limit climate change.)

Local activists say more can be done

Many agree the Paris Agreement is a positive step, but climate activists say more can be done.

Demonstrations were held across the world Saturday, including more than 100 people marching in downtown Minneapolis, to coincide with the end of the climate talks, MPR News reports.

Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light planned the "Red Line March" that ended at the Minneapolis Convention Center Saturday, where they demanded the target for global temperature increase to be at less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, saying not only is that feasible, but it's the only option, according to a post on the organization's blog.

"Let's make sure this is just the beginning," Julia Nerbonne, director of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, told the Star Tribune. "This is a turning point in the world economy, and we need to make sure the people continue to be part of the decision making moving forward."

Minnesotans in Paris

Delegations from the University of Minnesota and Macalester College, as well as many other Minnesotans, were among the some 45,000 delegates from 196 nations who traveled to Paris for the COP21 climate conference, where people from universities, government bodies and businesses gathered to share their ideas for combating climate change, MinnPost reported.

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman joined other international leaders in an agreement to help protect rivers – a pact that they say will reduce climate impact on the world's food and freshwater supply, MinnPost said.

Minnesota was also among just seven states to sign onto the Under-2 MOU as part of the Paris Agreement, which commits them to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80-95 percent below 1990 levels, as well as expand zero-emission vehicles, improve air quality, and assess the impacts of climate change on communities, a White House news release says.

Prior to the Paris conference, four Minnesota companies joined dozens of other United States-based businesses in a pledge to combat climate change. Each company laid out their goals for reducing its carbon footprint.

Some Minnesota colleges and universities also joined a White House initiative in support of a strong climate agreement at the COP21.

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