Progress After Paris: The Next Global Step To Tackle the Climate Crisis

Tom Steyer
Sep 22, 2016 · 3 min read

Climate change is a global crisis — one the international community and private sector must tackle together if we have any hope of averting the worst impacts on our health, our economies and our communities.

Last December, global leaders made historic progress when they traveled to Paris and agreed to collectively address climate change with the historic Paris Agreement. On that international stage, I joined California Governor Jerry Brown, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a coalition of California business leaders to tell the story of California’s leadership on clean energy — showing that a growing economy and climate action go hand-in-hand.

Paris was an important step forward — but we aren’t done yet.

We all know climate change is the challenge of our generation, but recent statistics argue that the hill we have to climb has gotten steeper: 2015 was the hottest year since modern recordkeeping began and 2016 has a 99% chance of being even hotter. August and July have tied as the hottest months ever recorded in human history.

Across our country, Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change firsthand. From the devastating flooding in Louisiana to the raging wildfires in the West, it is clear that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe, thanks to climate change.

With these rapidly accelerating changes in our natural world, the international community must similarly accelerate its efforts to reduce pollutants and transition to a global clean energy economy.

Coming less than 10 months after that historic meeting in Paris, the upcoming Montreal Protocol negotiations in Kigali, Rwanda, represent our next best opportunity to reduce dangerous pollutants and slow the impacts of climate change. During that session, countries are expected to vote on an amendment that would reduce the use of pollutants known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — a move that will help protect vulnerable populations from the worst effects of climate change. Research indicates that phasing down HFCs — which are used for cooling and refrigeration purposes — could prevent up to 0.5°C of global warming by the end of the century.

The amendment would be a victory for global governments, but they can’t do it alone. We know that the private sector and philanthropic community can’t just sit on the sidelines. We all must play a role.

That’s why today, I am honored to join a coalition of 19 foundations and philanthropic donors to support a new $53 million fund to help expand energy efficiency efforts in developing nations. These efforts, which could potentially double the climate benefits compared to reducing HFCs alone, are necessary to reduce greenhouse gases, address the climate crisis, and strengthen the global framework needed for business to accelerate our transition to clean energy.

On climate and clean energy, government sets the international framework and the private sector uses that framework to do what it does best: innovate, create and drive global progress. Today’s announcement is yet another example of how the public and private sectors must come together to shore up the framework for a strong clean energy economy.

Tom Steyer

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Tom Steyer is a business leader and philanthropist who has pledged to give most of his wealth to charitable causes.

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