Red mangroves in the Bahamas. Protecting and restoring ecosystems is an important part of the solution to climate change; not only do mangroves, tropical forests and other ecosystems absorb carbon from the atmosphere, they also can help communities adapt to climate change impacts. (© Jeff Yonover)
Editor’s note: In December, the world’s nations made the biggest commitment to climate change action to date with the Paris Agreement. The global agreement is set to go into effect in 2020 — but with escalating climate impacts like massive coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef and mounting sea-level rise, there’s no time to waste.
As the U.N. prepares to host a signing ceremony for the agreement on April 22, Conservation International Climate Policy Director Shyla Raghav outlines the next steps countries need to take.
Question: Countries already adopted the Paris Agreement in December. How is this week’s event different?
Answer: In December, the countries adopted the agreement within the framework of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); with Friday’s signing, they will signal their intention to ratify it. We’re expecting 155 countries to sign, which will likely be record-shattering in terms of the number of countries signed onto an international accord so soon after adoption.
I think this will be an important point for countries to renew their commitment to the agreement, as well as to propel momentum for climate change action forward. We don’t want to send the signal that the climate problem is solved, or that we’ve already put in place everything that’s required to achieve the agreement. This is an opportunity for us to leverage existing awareness to ensure that countries are working to fulfill the commitments they have made.