Hopeful signs ahead of 2015’s big climate change meeting

It is a cause for celebration that America and China are engaging in ambitious talks aimed at smoothing over differences before the Paris conference begins

 

Share

What must not happen when world leaders meet in Paris, at the 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change, is a repeat of what has gone before. In 2001, the US, then the world’s largest polluter, failed to ratify the legally binding emissions targets laid out years earlier in the Kyoto Protocol – all but invalidating the agreement. Move to 2009 and the Copenhagen climate summit collapsed in disarray, while in Warsaw last year, China and a bloc of 132 countries simply walked out.

In all cases, failure was in large part determined by a lack of co-operation between richer and poorer countries. So it is a cause for celebration that America and China are engaging in ambitious talks aimed at smoothing over differences before the Paris conference begins.

Without leadership from these two nations – who emit almost as much CO2 as the rest of the world combined – progress will once more be stymied. Getting started early is also positive. It was, in previous rounds, a failure to prepare the groundwork that saw delegates leave with so little achieved. That is not to underestimate the task at hand. As the EU and US together cut emissions of CO2 by 60 million tonnes last year, China’s rose by 500 million, and are predicted to rise for at least the next 20 years. Todd Stern, the US climate envoy, must strike a delicate balance: he should take advantage of signs that the Chinese are willing to consider a total emissions cap, and push hard for one. That would bring China into line with Europe and other developed nations.

At the same time, Chinese negotiators are right to point out an injustice in their being forced to curtail economic development in pursuit of clean energy– when developed nations polluted merrily during their industrialising heyday. The call from China for rich nations to cut CO2 emissions by 40 per cent compared with 1990 in the next six years may be unrealistic (given that the US target is currently four per cent), but Mr Stern should make it clear that the US recognises its historic pollution, and is prepared to pay accordingly.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“I just wanted some chicken wings,” Tan Shen told the assembled media. “But once I got in there ... I decided I needed time to think.”  

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015