It took years of negotiating, but nearly all of the world's nations have finally agreed
on a plan to tackle climate change. On Saturday, these countries' leaders came together to officially sign the historic Paris Agreement, which pledges real action to keep global temperatures from rising catastrophically.
It was a huge moment for people around the world and for our planet. And though many believe that the accord is not perfect, it does show the power of ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. During my two weeks in Paris, I witnessed young and old alike marching in the streets, indigenous peoples from around the world standing together, and the most climate-vulnerable nations
leading the call for strong action. Along the way, there were concerts
, lectures, parties, and plenty of pastries.
After the deal was announced, all of these people spread across Paris, in part to celebrate but also to tell world leaders: We are watching, and we want real action now. This is the beginning, not the end.
At first glance, it may seem as if the technical details of greenhouse-gas emissions are poor subjects for watercolor, stamps, and collage, but to me, climate change is about people — the people I saw on the streets of Paris, and the people who expect more than just empty promises. Ahead, some of my Paris journal entries, which break down the biggest moments from COP21 and what the world needs to know (and do) now. Caption: On November 29, activists held a day of peaceful demonstrations in Paris. Despite being told that they could not take to the streets because of security concerns, protesters left tens of thousands of shoes in the Place de la Republique to symbolize their presence and commitment.
Editor's note: Perrin Ireland is a science reporter at Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group.