Earth Day 2016 will be a truly historic event. At the United Nations in New York City, more than 150 countries will sign the Paris Agreement that was forged at COP21. The signing by so many, this quickly, is unprecedented. By signing the agreement, countries large and small, rich and poor, initiate the process by which the agreement will “enter into force.” A strong global climate agreement and the transition to a low-carbon economy are in the best interests of the global economy and future generations.
We are proud to stand alongside over 100 other companies in formally welcoming the Paris Agreement, congratulating world leaders on reaching this ambitious climate change accord and encouraging timely implementation of the climate commitments laid out in the sgreement. We are pleased to be joined in the congratulatory statement and call for a "Low Carbon USA" by USGBC members including Autodesk, Colgate Palmolive, Dupont, Enernoc, General Mills, HP, Hilton, JLL, Johnson & Johnson, Kingspan, Mortenson Construction, National Grid, Nike, Pacific Gas & Electric, Perkins + Will, Philips, Schneider Electric, Sealed Air, Starbucks, Thornton Tomasetti and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.
Across the globe a majority of people—and government officials—now recognize the threat of climate change. Science, education, media and increasingly severe natural disasters have made this real. But that awareness alone is unlikely to have enabled the agreement. The upsurge in implemented clean energy and energy efficiency has been critically important in showing that decarbonization is a real option and can be achieved hand in hand with a strong economy and necessary development. To get there, governments have led by example and flexed policy levers to support research and development (R&D) and drive new markets; the finance world has responded with record-breaking investment; corporations have responded with innovative technologies and bringing ideas to scale.
Historic as it is, the Paris Agreement is a starting point for the accelerated transformation we need. We recognize that the hard work has now only just begun. We must now focus our efforts and attention on the agreement’s proper implementation. Governments will need to boost R&D and adopt more reaching policies, such as the Clean Power Plan; more investors will need to prioritize clean energy and sustainable attributes in their portfolios; and businesses will need to keep innovating and putting solutions into the marketplace. And closer to home, each of us has a role, as a citizen and voter, and in our own lives.
Wherever you fit in, all of us have a role to fulfill. For tomorrow, let’s pause to appreciate the historic moment, and get back to work. We can’t afford to waste any more time.