Leaders from around the world are gathered at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, officially known as the 21st Conference of the Parties (or COP21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From November 30-December 11, countries will work together to negotiate an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change. Their primary objective: prevent average global temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F).
While fossil fuel emissions (CO2) make up a significant percentage of the greenhouse gas emissions targeted for reduction, an even greater portion of carbon is released by deforestation and agriculture. So it stands to reason that, “Protecting, restoring, and better managing tropical forests could provide as much as half the net carbon emissions required to meet a 2-degree Celsius climate target.”
In other words, not clearing forests has a double benefit. Trees will absorb carbon that’s already in the atmosphere and won’t release the carbon they’ve stored if they’re not cut down- which means protecting trees can go a long way to protecting the planet. These same forests are also important to ensuring healthy ecosystems that provide things like freshwater for people and wildlife and, of course, habitat for many endangered animals such as orangutans.
Whether they’re focused on forests or fossil fuels, our leaders are clearly doing incredibly important work at COP21. Tweet them to show your support.
Follow the Zoo on social media for updates from Paris as well as updates on Philadelphia’s own climate actions including the Greenworks Plan and the Climate & Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP); and for more on Philadelphia’s leadership role in collaborating with mayors in cities throughout the U.S., and the world, as part of initiatives such as C40 Cities that create solutions for sustainable communities and a clean energy future.