In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama ranked the importance of a climate change strategy on a par with national security, economic equality and a more effective political process. Here are six steps his administration can take this year to cement its climate legacy.
Climate, Energy & Transport
Pessimists may be confidently gloomy about 2016 -- anemic world economy, rising inequality, terrorist threats, disastrous weather -- but in the area of sustainable development, they are wrong. WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer notes that we have much more reason for hope at the start of this new year than we did at the beginning of 2015.
2015 featured some of the most significant climate milestones in human history. From record-high temperatures to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide not seen in a million years or more to a landmark international agreement to limit global warming, no other year has seen such a stark contrast of climate indicators.
Cities designed for cars rather than people create an urban existence that is bad for the economy, bad for family life and terrible for the environment. We can -- we must -- do better in the 21st century, as WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer explains.
The landmark Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 was made possible, in part, by the business community. Governments around the world needed to know, and be able to show, that business supported an ambitious approach to tackle climate change.
Because the Paris Agreement is a universal, legally binding agreement to tackle climate change under international law, it joins other such agreements as the highest expression of political intent and will. That sends a strong signal to corporations, planners, investors and others that governments will enforce climate policies.
What led to the successful adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21? WRI's Michael Oko sees persistence, determination and the increasing clarity of climate science as key factors.
Climate negotiators who helped craft the new Paris Agreement have long wrestled with language about the long-term goal to give guidance to investors and policymakers on what they need to do and when. There's a complex balancing act involved.