World reaches historic climate change agreement in Paris

World leaders agree on landmark climate change agreement at summit in Paris
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The world has finally come to an agreement about climate change: something has got to change, and now, it will.

Polar bears drifting on shrinking ice patches or swimming through slushy waters have become the iconic image of global warming and the melting Arctic. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Polar bears drifting on shrinking ice patches or swimming through slushy waters have become the iconic image of global warming and the melting Arctic. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Representatives from almost 200 countries convened in Paris on Saturday and approved a treaty legally requiring nearly every nation in the world to make more stringent climate change policies. The goal is to keep the planet’s average temperature from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than pre-industrial times. Scientists link that level with widespread environmental consequences like rising sea levels and food and water shortages.

The agreement is historic. For the first time, everyone is required to reduce their carbon emissions, wealthy and developing countries alike. Starting in 2020, they must reconvene every five years to update their plans and make further cuts to emissions, and starting in 2023 they’ll convene every five years to publicly report their progress.

The treaty is good news for the outdoor industry, which relies on cold temperatures and snowy winters. Winter tourism and snow sports account for a $62 billion industry, Protect Our Winters wrote in advance of the Paris summit. The United States alone has nearly 1 million winter tourism-related jobs supported by snow.

“The work isn’t done by any stretch,” POW’s executive director, Chris Steinkamp, wrote in an email announcing the agreement. “This agreement is just the start. We have to stay even more focused now, to make sure that what our leaders agreed to in Paris is followed through on at home. But we’re ready now to take it on.”

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