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Paris delivers on climate change again, at One Planet Summit

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Once again, Paris delivers. Two years on from the landmark climate agreement that carries the city’s name, President Emanuel Macron’s One Planet Summit has delivered leadership, progress, momentum and the connections we will need to address climate change.

To take each of these elements in turn:

Leadership: Macron has embraced climate change as a defining issue of his presidency, building on the leadership demonstrated by the previous French administration in the run-up to the Paris Agreement. It almost goes without saying that his leadership is particularly vital at this time, as President Donald Trump plays to an ever-shrinking base rejecting climate science, and while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s attention is absorbed by domestic political pressures.

Macron is not leading in isolation; some 50 heads of state and government attended the summit, demonstrating the wide base of political support increasingly enjoyed by the Paris Agreement, in particular, and tackling climate change in general.

Progress: As is customary, the summit was chosen as the venue for a host of announcements, report launches and progress updates. There are dozens I could mention, but to highlight just a handful:

These announcements, and many others like them, demonstrate the progress that countries and non-state actors are making in working towards the ultimate objectives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Momentum: The Paris Agreement is part of a process, and every process needs momentum to drive it forward. The One Planet Summit has helped to provide just that momentum.

We are in a crucial implementation phase, where we need to demonstrate progress in terms of countries’ voluntary emissions pledges made under Paris and, ideally, in increasing the ambition of pre-2020 emission cuts. Next year, the Talanoa Dialogue will begin, that will take stock of progress to date and inform the next phase of national emissions pledges.

In this context, this week’s summit has created a bridge between COP23 and next year’s milestones: the Talanoa Dialogue, next September’s climate summit in California, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reporton the impacts of 1.5oC of warming, due in the same month, and, of course, COP24 in Katowice.

Connections: Successfully achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement — to halt global warming, to decarbonize the global economy, and build resilience to the inevitable effects of climate change — will require new connections to be made. Connections between international pledges and domestic action. Between state and non-state actors. Between rich countries and poor.

Most importantly, we need to make the connection between action today and the long-term vision of the Paris Agreement. The One Planet Summit helped to make these connections, joining the dots and bringing all types of actors together to reaffirm our commitment to addressing global warming.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal is the leader of WWF’s global climate and energy programme. He is based in Berlin. mpulgarvidal@wwfint.org

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