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World leaders mark 5 years of Paris climate agreement with virtual gathering

Click to play video: 'Fight climate change like we battle COVID-19, says Paris Accord’s chief negotiator' Fight climate change like we battle COVID-19, says Paris Accord’s chief negotiator
WATCH: Fight climate change like we battle COVID-19, says Paris Accord's chief negotiator – Dec 12, 2020

World leaders are staging a virtual gathering Saturday to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Paris climate accord, which set a goal for keeping global temperatures from rising above levels that could have devastating consequences for mankind.

The event, hosted by France, Britain, Italy, Chile and the United Nations, will see heads of state and government from over 70 countries pledge to increase their efforts to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

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Experts say commitments put forward by the international community have already improved the long-term outlook on climate change, making the worst-case scenarios less likely by the end of the century. But wildfires in the Amazon, Australia and America, floods in Bangladesh and East Africa, and record temperatures in the Arctic have highlighted the impact an increase of 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times is already having on the planet.

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The Paris agreement aims to cap global warming at well under 2C (3.6F), ideally no more than 1.5C (2.7F), by the end of the century.

Click to play video: 'Countries talk carbon emissions at COP25 climate summit' Countries talk carbon emissions at COP25 climate summit
Countries talk carbon emissions at COP25 climate summit – Dec 2, 2019

Achieving this will require a phasing-out of fossil fuels and better protection for the world’s carbon-soaking forests, wetlands and oceans.

The United States, which quit the Paris accord under President Donald Trump, won’t attend the event at the federal level. But several U.S. governors and business leaders, such as Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook, will take part.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the pact and put the U.S. on course to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2050.

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