“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nearly a month ago I reported how the Global Buddhist Climate Change Collective published a letter directed to world leaders participating in COP21, the recently concluded climate change conference in Paris. The letter, signed by Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and 13 other well-known Buddhist teachers, urged the leaders at COP21 to act on climate change.

From the reports I’ve seen, the general consensus seems to be that the conference was a success, even “historic.” There are others who are less enthusiastic; scientists are cautious and environmentalists skeptical.

A headline in The Guardian suggested the agreeement will herald “the end of the fossil fuel era.” But, also in The Guardian, Dr. James Hansen, who first testified before Congress about greenhouse gases in 1988, and is known as “the father of climate change awareness”, shared his doubts about what the conference accomplished, saying “There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

The agreement aims to hold the increase of the global average temperature to “well below” 2C and to pursue a goal of 1.5 C.  Some say that the world leaders went further than ever before by defining the allowable amount of future climate disruption.

Evidently, the conference was not only historic but also dramatic. Saturday afternoon, the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius presented the draft that was soon agreed to by the conferees.

Fabius’ remarks were being translated by a member of the UN’s translation staff. As he began to thank those who had worked to put the deal together, Fabius’ voice began to falter and even the translator became emotional. A report I read stated that the translator began to cry as Fabius concluded his speech with a quote from the late Nelson Mandela:

Let me conclude. One of you mentioned the other day a famous quote by Nelson Mandela, most suited to the occasion: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’

I would like to add a few more words, by the same hero: ‘None of us acting alone can achieve success.’

Success is within reach of all our hands working together.”

There is not much that needs to be added to that.  It is rather obvious that it will take the entire world working together to win over the global threat of dangerous climate change.  You can view the full speech, with English translation, on the UN website.