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The Paris Agreement was a watershed moment for the U.S. and climate change. Photograph by Pete Souza.
On Saturday, December 12, 2015, world leaders adopted the Paris Agreement, a commitment to stopping global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry signed the agreement at the United Nations in April 2016. It's important to note that the United Nations' previous major climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, was ratified in 2004, during George W. Bush's administration. The United States did not sign, making the Paris Agreement, as Kerry put it, "the most ambitious global climate agreement" of which the United States is a part.
A ban on Arctic drilling will save marine life.
Last month, in a bit of deft legal maneuvering, Obama invoked a little-known clause of a little-known 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, to place what is likely to be a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in large parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. This move protects hundreds of millions of acres of federally owned land, much of which serve as biodiversity hotspots for marine life including, the White House said, "deepwater corals, deep diving beaked whales, commercially valuable fishes, and significant numbers of habitat-forming soft and hard corals, sponges, and crabs."