As emissions rise, UN climate talks take on greater urgency

This has been an alarming year for climate change effects. Wildfires scorched California, hurricanes took heavy tolls and coral reefs are dying. In the face of these natural disasters, greenhouse gas emissions, the main driver of climate change, aren’t decreasing — in fact, they’re going up, according to a new report.

A commentary on the report, published this week by Christiana Figueres, the former head of the United Nations climate change body and distinguished fellow at Conservation International, comes as countries gather this week and next for the UN climate talks (COP 24) in Poland.

We know that natural climate solutions are critical to achieving the Paris Agreement goals. Protecting, sustainably managing and restoring forests and natural ecosystems are an indispensable part of the solution to climate change, providing at least 30 percent of the mitigation needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. So the guidance being discussed in Poland must encourage countries to make natural climate solutions an integral component of their national commitments, action plans and investments.

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