The World Just Reached A Historic Agreement To Fight Climate Change. Here's What You Need To Know

Written by Anna Williams

Almost every country in the world just agreed to take a major step toward addressing global climate change.

On Saturday evening in Paris, leaders from 195 nations signed on to the landmark "Paris Agreement." The pact, designed to rein in global warming, includes promises from countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with those pledges increasing every five years.

The Paris Agreement, which goes into effect in 2020, also includes a commitment from wealthier countries to send $100 billion a year to developing nations most impacted by climate change.

"For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change."

Overall, the plan has a long-term goal to hold global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, but ideally to just 1.5 degrees. That’s because most climate scientists say that staying below that 2 degrees Celsius target is what’s necessary to stave off the most devastating effects of global warming, like pervasive food and water shortages and severe storms and droughts.

Still, despite worries about how achievable that goal might be, and if it would be enough to save the planet, the Paris Agreement was met with applause and hope from leaders around the world.

“This is truly a historic moment,” Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, told The New York Times. “For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change, one of the most crucial problems on earth.”

In his own statement, President Obama expressed similar optimism:

We can be more confident that this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation. And that’s what I care about. I imagine taking my grandkids, if I’m lucky enough to have some, to the park someday, and holding their hands, and hearing their laughter, and watching a quiet sunset, all the while knowing that our work today prevented an alternate future that could have been grim; that our work, here and now, gave future generations cleaner air, and cleaner water, and a more sustainable planet. And what could be more important than that?

To learn more about the Paris Agreement, and how you can help make a change, keep reading:

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