Landmark Paris Climate Deal Watched Closely in Connecticut | Connecticut Public Radio

Landmark Paris Climate Deal Watched Closely in Connecticut

Dec 15, 2015

Nearly 200 countries adopted a landmark agreement to combat global warming over the weekend and several Connecticut environmentalists were watching.

Sarah Ganong, with Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound, was in Paris recently for demonstrations. She said security was tight, which meant a lot of protests got canceled.

Still, Ganong said going to Paris was inspiring.

"All the people that I met there work on the U.N. process for two, two-and-a-half weeks a year and we all spend the other 49-and-a-half, 50 weeks of the year at home doing things on the local level," Ganong said. "I think that's the most powerful thing, just knowing that everybody back in the states including us here at [Connecticut Fund for the Environment], and all around the world, are working on this every day and every other week of the year."

Ganong said she hopes the agreement is equitable to poorer countries, many of whom are disproportionately impacted by climate change. She also hopes global leaders focus on limiting the world's average temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius -- a key goal of the agreement.

Gary Yohe, professor of economics and environmental studies at Wesleyan University, said that's "an ambitious target." He is hopeful it will send environmental -- and economic -- signals to the business community.

"They now have an idea that the world is taking this seriously. That, one way or the other, their use of the atmosphere to deposit carbon is going to become increasingly expensive," Yohe said. "So there's a really good reason for them to try to think about how to reduce their own emissions."

Yohe thinks enforcement of the Paris agreement's goals -- particularly how emissions from nearly 200 countries are tracked, cataloged, and made publicly available -- will require more intense international effort.