Increased Chinese and US ambitions raise hopes for a global deal on climate change

Could the US and China lead the way in COP21 negotiations? Photo credit: Reuters / Mick Tsikas.
By Anders Lorenzen

Increased ambition and efforts by the US and China could pave the way for a global deal on climate change in Paris at the end of this year.

The world’s two largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, China and the US’s ambitious agenda on tackling climate change, could play a leading role in securing a global deal at COP21 in Paris, Reuters reports ( China and the US were largely blamed for the failure to reach a deal at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009). Ministers and delegates from all 192 UN countries will meet in Paris, at the end of November, to try and forge a global deal on combatting climate change. At previous meetings, countries have agreed that a global deal must be agreed in 2015 and  come into effect by 2020. But that is easier said than done as many things still separate countries.

Last time there was hope that a global deal would be agreed was at COP15, but that failed miserable. Looking at where we were at this point of the year in 2009 and where we are now could offer us hope. During negotiations in the German city in Bonn from the 31st of August to the 4th of September some headway was made.

According to Elina Bardram, the head of the European Commission delegation :”We’re closer to an agreement than at the same time before Copenhagen, But there’s a lot still to be done.”

The text they are working on contains a mix of ideas such as a call to end all GHG emissions by 2050.this might be hard to get through as OPEC countries would push for no deadlines.

But despite the huge turn around by the US and China, who have now forged climate policies and emission reduction targets (they had none in 2009), in addition to agreeing a joint climate agreement, a lot of work still needs to be done. Time is an issue, as another Bonn summit due to take place in October would be the last opportunity before COP21 begins on the 30th of November.

But Laurence Tubiana, France‘s climate ambassador, warned that we should not see  COP21 as the end but the beginning: Paris is not the end of the process, it is the start of the process,” she stated, urging more focus on action from 2015 to 2020 when the Paris accord will enter into force.

But one of the stumbling blocks could be the national goals that each country has to submit, also called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), as they are simply not ambitious enough to limit global warming to two degree celsius or less. Two degrees is the one thing that world leaders have so far agreed on.

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