The Long March to Paris

This week, Paris will again be at the center of global attention – but, this time, for a much more positive reason. Although the upcoming global climate negotiations will entail heated discussions and plenty of disagreement, a meaningful accord to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions has become increasingly likely.

PARIS – Over the next few weeks, Paris will once again dominate global headlines. This time, however, the news is likely to be positive, as world leaders come together to forge a meaningful agreement in the fight against climate change.

To be sure, at first glance, the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place from November 30 to December 11 looks a lot like the 2009 conference in Copenhagen, when negotiators were unable to agree on an effective accord. And indeed, the desired outcome remains unchanged: an international deal that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and limit global warming to 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But there are notable differences this time around. The stiff economic headwinds that negotiators confronted six years ago have been replaced by a tailwind of opportunity. No longer is the conversation limited to burden sharing and sacrifice; increasingly, there is talk of innovation and technological breakthroughs that make sustainable development possible. In short, the negotiations are taking place in an environment favorable to collective action, with support from the business community, financial institutions, civil society, religious leaders, politicians, and, indeed, the public at large.

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