195 nations to sign new climate pact by 2015
Leaders from around the world have gathered in Lima, Peru for the 20th session of the United Nations climate change conference. It is widely hoped that the meeting will formalise the foundations for a new climate change agreement to be signed by 195 nations at a major summit in Paris next year.
Ahead of the conference, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released its 2014 Emissions Gap Report and stressed that limiting global temperature rise to two degrees and fending off the worst impacts of climate change requires “global carbon neutrality by mid to late century”. This means that global emissions need to peak within the decade and then rapidly decline in the second half of the century.
Speaking about the importance of UNEP’s report, Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute said: “It provides one of the most clear-eyed, technical analyses of global emissions that shows how country commitments and actions measure against science.”
He continued: “Although the world is currently failing to meet targets, with the growing momentum for global climate action, we have the opportunity to close the emissions gap and keep within the limits of what science says is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”
There is some concern as to whether the opposing interests of both rich and poor nations could result in an impasse during talks, as some nations, including the US, will not agree to enter into legally binding emission cuts. Nevertheless, the chances of a new global agreement being developed over the coming days has been bolstered by last month’s announcement from China and the US has outlined new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels.
Speaking ahead of the talks, the executive secretary of the UN Climate Convention Christiana Figueres was positive about the potential outcome in Lima. She said: “Well ahead of next year’s first quarter deadline, countries have already been outlining what they intend to contribute to the Paris agreement.”
Setting the scene for real progress in tackling climate change is now firmly in action in Lima but it remains to be seen whether attending nations can deliver on the current momentum to meet the agreed goal of limiting global temperature rise and safeguarding the planet for future generations.