Paris Agreement To Be Ratified Ahead of Schedule

Tomorrow, the United Nation’s pivotal Paris climate agreement will officially be ratified. With a vote of approval by the European Union last month, the agreement crossed the threshold of 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions required in order to enter into force. Ratification comes less than a year after negotiations occurred at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) this past December, well ahead of schedule of even the most optimistic predictions.

As the agreement officially enters into force, many questions remain regarding how its ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be reached. NECEC was fortunate to attend COP21, representing the unique Northeast clean energy industry perspective. Though NECEC did not participate in the negotiations, the insights we brought to Paris continue to offer direction in turning these climate commitments into the market structures, innovations, and investments needed to solve climate change. Doing so will require growing a global network of clean energy economies, and the Northeast can serve as a catalyst and leading model.

In fact, cities in the Northeast are leading the way in fighting climate change through clean energy innovations. Both Boston and New York received the 2015 C40 Cities Awards for policies and programs that reduce emissions and improve sustainability. While in Paris, NECEC Corporate Development Executive Alistair Pim stressed the role cities will play in seeing the agreement through.

“Today more than 50% of people live in cities, and that is where 75% of energy is consumed [and] over 80% of greenhouse gasses are emitted,” he noted. “Cities are where we need to focus… and there’s a growing effort for cities to be engaged as active customers with state policy and clean energy industry to drive new solutions for smart, sustainable cities.”Cities, more easily than states and federal governments, are uniquely situated to move towards a modernized electricity system that values and integrates distributed energy resources.

Like cities, the private sector will prove indispensable in seeing the goals of Paris become a reality. Here in the Northeast, we are seeing exactly that as NECEC member companies are delivering clean energy impacts by turning broad targets into specific initiatives, engaging in markets, growing partnerships, and investing in projects across the region.

During COP21, Bill Gates and nearly 30 other private sector leaders committed over a billion dollars to the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to invest in early stage companies developing and scaling innovations for a zero carbon emissions future. The swift implementation of the Paris agreement will provide others in the private sector with the confidence they need to invest in and innovate our energy system in revolutionary ways.

Ratification of this monumental climate agreement is a decisive step in stopping climate change in its tracks. And as the Northeast is already proving, the clean energy industry is poised to meet the challenge. 

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Sean Davenport

Sean is NECEC's Communications Manager.