The Paris climate talks ended in elation — now the real work begins,

Environment News / January 22, 2016 /

In May 1927, a fearless aviator named Charles Lindbergh circled his fragile single-engine monoplane, waiting for tens of thousands of expectant Parisians to clear the runway at Le Bourget Field. When he landed, completing his solo trans-Atlantic flight, the jubilant crowd erupted — it was a unifying moment of “can-do” optimism that electrified people around the globe.

Eighty-eight years later, on Dec. 12, 2015, history was made again at Le Bourget. Delegates from 196 nations, for the first time ever, agreed at the 21st United Nations Climate Summit to reduce their carbon emissions, wean the world economy off fossil fuels, and give the human race a shot at surviving the rapidly escalating dangers of global warming in the decades ahead.

Well over 10,000 people crowded the summit venue, and in a fashion similar to Lindbergh’s landing, they were stunned by the outcome, abuzz, euphoric. Despite gloomy predictions, history had been made. The Paris Agreement — though voluntary and still fuzzy on how goals will be reached and enforced — exceeded the expectations of many.

That bolt of optimism also passed through faith leaders onsite and around the world. They sensed their moment had arrived. As COP21 participants celebrated, I dashed into the media center and stopped the first person I recognized, Joe Ware, a spokesman for Christian Aid, a faith-based group in London dedicated to environmental protection. He was breathless.

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