Countries made only modest climate-change promises in Paris. They’re falling short anyway.

By Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

Heads of delegations at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. By Presidencia de la República Mexicana • CC BY 2.0


Barely two years ago, after weeks of intense bargaining in Paris, leaders from 195 countries announced a global agreement that once had seemed impossible. For the first time, the nations of the world would band together to reduce humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels in an effort to hold off the most devastating effects of climate change.

“History will remember this day,” the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said amid a backdrop of diplomats cheering and hugging.

Two years later, the euphoria of Paris is colliding with the reality of the present.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide are rising again after several years of remaining flat.

The United States, under President Trump, is planning to withdraw from the Paris accord and is expected to see emissions increase by 1.8 percent this year, after a three-year string of declines. Other countries, too, are showing signs they might fail to live up to the pledges they made in Paris.

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