This week kicked off the COP21 climate talks in Paris, a city still reeling from the attacks on November 13th. In his speech on Monday, President Obama stressed the need to come to an agreement at this year’s summit, and how Paris’ hosting of the talks just weeks after the violence was an act of “defiance” in the face of terror.

Indeed, many predict that if the UN Climate Talks succeed in producing agreements for carbon mitigation, they will spur economic growth carbon-reducing technologies and services. While many decry the lack of action (and the huge amount of work that needs to be done to halt climate change before we reach a change of 2°C), there have also been big achievements in the field. According to an article last fall in New York Magazine, we can dare to be optimistic about the prospects for our planet.

Many organizations, such as Project Drawdown have committed to even lower targets than the 2°C mark. The human race has achieved incredible things over the history of our existence. Tackling climate change is the big challenge for the 21st Century, and we’re certainly up for it!

Read the full text of the President’s remarks at COP21