The Stanley Foundation
Menu
Close
Seeking a secure peace with freedom and justice, built on global citizenship and effective global governance.
Search 
The Paris Agreement marks an unprecedented opportunity to quell the tide of climate change, and Iowans have a role to play

Todd Edwards, Stanley Foundation Program Officer
Published April 22, 2016 in Little Village
May 2016

In the wake of the recently released World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Statement on the Status of Global Climate 2015 report, which warns that the world is warming faster than predicted, the Paris Agreement on climate change (the “Agreement”)—negotiated at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—will open for signing at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Earth Day. The Agreement needs a minimum of 55 countries to sign on, that cover at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emission. So far, over 130 countries have said that they will sign.

Since climate change will affect almost every part of our lives, including food, water, energy, transportation, and other economic and social systems, what does the Agreement mean for us here in Iowa?

The latest scientific studies exclaim that accelerated global warming means that without climate action—removing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions—humanity is going to collide with nature in a way that has not been recorded before. This means even graver threats to food and water security and global public health, as well as an increase in climate-related threat multipliers, especially in conflict prone areas. In Iowa, according to data collected by the National Climate Assessment and the American Security Project, this likely translates (but is not limited) to increases in rainfall and flooding that can affect food production and water quality, as well as potential future deployment of military personnel and humanitarian aid from Iowans. Also, US, global, and local economies will be negatively affected due to the devastation to infrastructure and adaptation to climatic change, such as what happened in New York with Hurricane Sandy; in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina; and in Iowa with the floods of 2008.

There is good reason to fear global warming, yet the Agreement gives hope and opportunity for a global collective action that can prevail over looming catastrophic events. With a newly negotiated long-term goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels,” in the Agreement, the world has a chance to prevent the worst. The Agreement was a negotiated consensus of nearly 200 countries for a new and innovative approach to global climate change governance.

The Agreement marks a point in history that acknowledges the differentiation of development agendas around the world. Parties to the UNFCCC pursued a “bottom-up” approach, whereby each country submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, based on their respective capabilities. These statements list what each country is willing to do on climate change. They do not all cover everything that needs to be done. These contributions, if implemented, will not limit global warming to even 2 degrees Celsius, which means there is a lot left to do. However, the Agreement does have a provision for future ratcheting up of national contributions. Nevertheless, there are some simulators that illustrate how difficult it will be to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by nations alone without extra help. It is important to keep in mind, though, that Paris is our starting point. It offers hope when historically we had next to none.

To help explain the signing of the Agreement and what it means for our community, I sent three questions to Tracy Raczek, Senior Advisor, Office of the President of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly. Raczek is formerly of the Climate Change Support Team of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, where she played a crucial role in the UN Climate Summit held in September 2014 around the People’s Climate March.

How does the Paris Agreement give hope to solving the climate change dilemma?

The Paris Agreement reflects, for the first time, a collective responsibility to keep global warming significantly below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and outlines a path for governments to cooperate going forward, including further ratcheting up of ambition to reduce greenhouse emissions in years ahead.

What does the signing of the Agreement signify to folks here in Iowa?

Reaching this global goal will require recalibration of existing economic, energy, and industrial practices. Community involvement is required for this transformation to bring optimal social and economic opportunity.

What can the Iowa City community do to take action on climate change or support global collective action on climate change?

Each person, each community has a deep relationship with the global climate. This does not require every person to be a climate expert or activist. However, everyone can contribute to solutions on a daily basis, and, collectively, they make a significant difference—decisions in personal lives, boardrooms, investment, and the halls of government—from local to national leadership.

_____________________

This is where Iowa meets the international dialogue on climate change; we can do more and we are not alone. Until the Agreement, individuals, cities, states, businesses, and civil society at large tried to act on preventing global warming, yet I get that there was a sense of helplessness surrounding what one person, one city, or one business could do to halt global warming, when so many nations were not acting on their own.

In addition to the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, in Paris it was agreed that an Action Agenda of nonnational contributions to solving climate change would be recognized. The Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) showcases what is being done around the world by cities, businesses, and communities. What Iowa can do is link arms with others around the world to not only do something about climate change, but also send the right signals to policymakers that we can do more, that we want transformational change—that we will not sit idle while waiting for nature to collide with us. We will be smarter—if not for us, then for the generations to come all around the world.

Here in Iowa City, we now have a platform to make that voice heard. I am happy to see that Iowa City recently joined the Compact of Mayors, which is also showcased on NAZCA. The next article in this series will focus on the Action Agenda and what it means for our community.

This article originally appeared in Little Village, Iowa City’s News, and Culture Magazine.

Resource:
Galvanizing the Groundswell of Climate Actions (GGCA)
Share: Email Facebook Twitter
HIGHLIGHTS
Courier Courier
The Winter 2016 issue of Courier features policy insights for the President-elect and new US leadership to improve our peace and security in nuclear policy, genocide prevention, and climate change. The issue also includes an in-depth interview with a survivor of the Phnom Penh, Cambodia genocide in the late 1970s. The full Winter 2016 issue. PDF (1.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE.

Stanley Foundation at 60
On December 12, 1956, the Stanley Foundation was certified as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Iowa, bringing to life an organization dedicated to creating a world in which there is a secure peace with freedom and justice. Sixty years later, the organization continues to pursue and advance that vision as a thriving nonpartisan operating foundation. Moreover, it remains an organization with a professional staff and the involvement of family members who have an ongoing role in shaping its strategy and core values. More.

IRP Fellows Reporting Live from the COP22 Climate Change Conference in Morocco
The International Reporting Project (IRP) and the Stanley Foundation collaborated to bring five international journalists to Marrakech, Morocco to report on the Twenty-Second Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from November 7-18, 2016.  

SAFETY Guidelines for Journalists:<br>Radiation Incidents SAFETY Guidelines for Journalists:
Radiation Incidents

In the event of a radiation incident such as the use of a so-called dirty bomb or nuclear reactor incident, accurate and swift reporting is vital to public safety. This guide is intended to both help the journalist to be safe if they are covering such a story and to provide basic safety information that can be conveyed to the public to limit the risk of radiation exposure. 

Reporting a Radiation Emergency Reporting a Radiation Emergency
Journalists would play an indispensable role keeping the public informed in an emergency resulting in the release of radiation, either accidental or deliberate. But what do they need to do their job effectively? The following recommendations to authorities who would manage such an emergency were drafted by participants in the 2016 Rotterdam Nuclear Security Workshop for International Journalists.

the latest the latest
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.

You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.


Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences
The Stanley Foundation holds two annual conferences, UN Issues and the Strategy for Peace Conference. These bring together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.

Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.


Receive Materials Receive Materials
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.

Nuclear Security Video Nuclear Security Video
The Stanley Foundation produced a 13-minute video looking at what needs to be done to stop terrorist groups from acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. The foundation talked with over a dozen diverse and distinguished experts from the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group and the Fissile Materials Working Group to see how today's patchwork of voluntary arrangements can be forged into a long-lasting system. Watch the video.

Watch and Learn Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.