MINNEAPOLIS — The United Nations has provided a new and stark update on our progress toward mitigating climate change. Simply put, the report says global warming is set to blow well past the goals that countries agreed to in 2015.

The Paris Climate Accord was signed that year with the goal of preventing catastrophic warming. Nearly 200 countries made a legally-binding promise to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Each molecule of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere — like carbon dioxide and methane — is like a feather in a down comforter. The more molecules, the more warming. Human activity, like the burning of fossil fuels, has led to the highest level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in at least 800,000 years, and a rate of warming that NASA calls "unprecedented" in human history.

At our current rate of progress, the U.N. predicts that the earth's average temperature will rise to nearly double the goal by 2030. Even if every country slashed their emissions by 42% overnight, the U.N. says there's still no guarantee we'd limit warming enough to prevent the worst of natural disasters.

The reality is that not only did we not cut, but emissions from burning coal, oil and gas rose 1.2% last year.

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And yet, we have proven that change is possible. In 2015, based on policies in place at the time, greenhouse gas emissions were projected to increase by 16% by 2030. Today, that projected increase is only 3%.

So what's next? We have no choice but to try harder. This year, the earth got a taste of what's to come, with extreme weather events including our drought and wildfire smoke. Preparing our homes and infrastructure for more extreme weather and more-frequent extreme weather events is critical.

Energy is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions; it accounts for 86% of global carbon dioxide. The cleanest energy is the energy that's never produced, so use less energy. Buying local supports your neighbors, and means goods don't have to travel as far to get to you.

Something as simple as a home energy audit will help reduce waste and save you money. The Inflation Reduction Act has $375 billion in spending on clean energy incentives.

Most importantly, no individual caused climate change, and no individual is going to solve it alone. Transformative change has to happen on city, state, and national levels, so let your voice be heard.

2023-11-20T23:28:33Z dg43tfdfdgfd