The Paris Climate Agreement becomes a reality, but what needs to happen next?

By Oxfam
UN leaders and the president of France celebrate the historic adoption of Paris Agreement on climate change in December of 2015. Photo: United Nations http://bit.ly/1VpF6ZC

This Earth Day, more than 165 countries join together at the United Nations Headquarters to sign the historic climate change agreement reached in Paris last December. 

The agreement sets a record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day, beating out the 119 signatories on the opening day of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982.

The signing of the Paris agreement is the first step towards its implementation, and an important step in moving towards building a more resilient, low-carbon future. However, there is still much unfinished business left from Paris to ensure the world adapts to the dangerous impacts of climate change.

Countries need to urgently ratchet up their ambition towards climate action as the provisions in the Paris agreement, which takes effect in 2020, are not enough to avoid a pathway towards a 3°C world. The agreement also does not ensure adequate funding so that millions of vulnerable people can prepare for and respond to increasing climate chaos. Climate adaptation costs will hit up over $500 billion per year by 2050, even if global temperatures are limited to 2°C.

Oxfam calls on governments to continue to confront climate change collectively and turn their commitments into action, while strengthening their current pledges and agreeing to higher finance levels.

Climate adaptation is crucial for developing countries to build resilience and adapt to the dangerous impacts of climate change. It’s the poorest people among us who are on the frontlines of our fight against climate change, despite being the least responsible for the emissions that triggered it.

Abdi Gire Wais is an Ethiopian farmer who has been displaced due to drought that has been exacerbated by El Niño. Before the drought, he had 15 cattle and 100 sheep and goats. Now he has only 22 animals left. Abiy Getahun/Oxfam

And on top of the impacts of climate change we are feeling now, increasing climate chaos, like El Niños and Super El Niños, could pose a serious threat to the stability of the global food system and increase humanitarian emergencies at a time when resources and capacity are already under enormous strain.

Approximately 60 million people will face hunger, disease, and water shortages this year because of record global temperatures, droughts and erratic rains in 2014 and 2015, compounded by the development of one of the most powerful El Niños on record.

The global climate deal kicks off the beginning of a new climate era, but there is still so much work to do. Right now, you can take action to help families facing this serious food crisis. 

Tell President Obama to help vulnerable communities prepare for climate change.