February 13, 2015

UCS Comments on Outcome of Climate Talks in Geneva

Harmony on Procedure, But Not Yet on Science

GENEVA (February 13, 2015) – The first 2015 United Nations climate talks wrapped up today in Geneva, Switzerland. The major accomplishment of the meeting was agreement on a draft legal negotiating text for the post-2020 agreement expected to be reached in at the Paris Climate Summit in December. Negotiators also discussed ways to accelerate action on climate change before 2020, and started to outline ideas on a possible pre-2020 actions that will be decided in Paris.
 
Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has been an active observer at the international climate change negotiations since they started in 1990.
 
“Negotiators should be applauded for developing an official negotiating text for the post-2020 climate agreement; this is an essential step on the road to Paris. But it is only the first step, and by no means the most difficult one.
 
“There remain deep and long-standing divisions on key issues – among them, which countries are more obligated than others to take action to reduce emissions; how and by how much to ramp up climate finance; and how to give greater priority to action on adaptation and loss and damage. These divisions nearly derailed the negotiations last December in Lima; they must be addressed in an open and constructive manner if we are to get the ambitious and comprehensive agreement we need in Paris.
 
“Full use should be made of the ministerial meetings being held in Peru, France, Germany, and the United States between now and the next negotiating session in June, in order to actively engage ministers in dialogue on these critical issues, and to provide greater political guidance to negotiators on ways to bridge differences amongst countries between now and Paris.  

“Right now on the national level, the pressure is on. All countries are expected to put forward their best emissions reduction offers, starting next month. These reduction commitments will show the world how serious each country is about addressing climate change.
 
“The world’s three largest emitters – China, Europe, and the U.S. – have already committed to submit their offers by the end of March; others should join them. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need a strong, science-based agreement that sets the world on a path to fully phase out emissions from fossil fuels by mid-century. Countries should be shaping their proposed commitments in light of this imperative, and working together to design an agreement in Paris that maintains pressure to keep ramping up climate ambition going forward.
 
“Developed countries should commit to scaling up the financial and technology support needed to help developing countries limit their carbon emissions and to make their communities more resilient to climate impacts. By keeping their promises on climate finance, the U.S. and other developed countries will not only be making smart investments in their own environmental and economic futures, but will be helping to build the trust and confidence needed to get a comprehensive climate deal in Paris.”
 
“From floods and droughts to hurricanes, typhoons and heat waves, the impacts of climate change are ever more evident all over the world. Negotiators, ministers, and national leaders must actively engage with each other in the months ahead to get the strongest deal possible in Paris, and must take the bold actions needed to build the climate-friendly global economy that their citizens deserve and are increasingly demanding."