Climate Change Editors' Vox

After the Climate Agreement in Paris

The climate agreement in Paris is an essential multilateral commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change, and the scientific community is key in supporting that commitment.

By Guy Brasseur

The climate agreement signed in Paris on 12 December 2015  constitutes a significant milestone for protecting humanity from dangerous climate change. Climate scientists and economists, and many world’s leaders have been urging such large scale action for years. The extraordinarily efficient role played by Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius and other negotiators in Paris led to a commitment between 195 countries to maintain global warming below 2°C.  Even though there was no clear plan to limit future CO2 emissions below 1,000 gigaton (emissions required to hold the 2° C target), the agreement initiated a new international dynamic that makes climate change a central theme for future economic, social, and cultural development and for environmental sustainability.

What then is our responsibility now that the agreements have been made? The scientific community has to provide objective scientific information that will facilitate climate smart solutions, and leads to sound priorities for the investment of the 100 billion dollars that have been committed in Paris.  Actions towards deep decarbonization require a new way by which society conducts business, develops urban areas, manages land, produces energy, and organizes transportation. All these changes will require new transdisciplinary approaches and an intensified dialogue between different communities: scientists, engineers, industrialists, policy-makers, and other stakeholders. Climate services, which have been established in many countries of the world to provide authoritative climate information, should evolve towards development of innovative ideas and translate into climate-smart investments. In other words, climate services will have to increasingly provide usable information rather than just useful science.

Even though the emphasis today is on the implementation of effective solutions, the need for fundamental science remains vital, and will require high intellectual and financial investments. The World Climate Research Program (WCRP) has identified several relevant grand challenges that will address societally relevant questions. One involves the formulation of processes that determine how atmospheric circulation affects the climate sensitivity calculated in climate models. Another challenge is to acquire a better predictive understanding of extreme events that have large impacts on the economy and people’s lives. The prediction of regional sea-level change and its impact on coastal areas is another question that will be addressed because of its large impacts on populations that live near the ocean. Another challenge  is to enhance our understanding of the processes that lead to massive melting of polar ice, and of the related impact on the global environment. A better understanding of the biogeochemical influence of the ocean and land on the carbon cycle remains an urgent question. Finally, many decision-makers in different sectors of the economy express high interest in seasonal-to-decadal climate predictions, which remains a difficult problem because it requires a better understanding of the complex internal dynamics of the climate system. All the fundamental issues should remain on the agenda of the scientific community in the coming years.

—Guy P. Brasseur, Editor, Earth’s Future; email: [email protected]


  • Jho P. Reyes

    Hi LEO

  • Jho P. Reyes

    I may not be a person of authority but Iam a person who by fact is an insurgent and a believer of Technology, To directly state my opinion with regards to the topic of Climate Change… Our responsibility here is clear but do we feel or devote to share the same cause… Are we really aware of laws of Nuclear physics and Nuclear backdraft? Do we so happen to to be aware of currently existing program just needed to be recognized then after wards needs to be promoted to directly see a pattern or a system.. i know radioactive dating do we know the contrast of it to planetology …………? If Neutron law is an exact Science How do we practice it…….? As a statement I would like it to be clear Iam the son of the Dr. Carl Sagan would anyone be against of it…?

  • Ben Pluim

    2 degrees C (not “20C”, which is formatting error).