500 days from crucial Paris summit, momentum grows for climate deal

momentum grows for climate deal

As the 500-day countdown begins to the UN climate talks in Paris, there are growing calls for climate action. Creative Commons: Michael Gwyther-Jones, 2009

500 days ahead of a crucial UN climate summit in Paris, momentum is growing for a global climate deal.

A diplomacy push by the world’s two biggest emitters has seen the US and China working on concrete initiatives to cut carbon emissions, while China has also suggested that it could announce an emissions cap as early as June 2015, maybe even in the first quarter, then meeting the UN deadline for national contributions to the Paris agreement.

Many of the major government players gathered in Paris for the two-day Major Economies Forum last weekend, which was immediately followed by the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed her commitment to a tough UN climate change agreement in 2015, promising EU and German leadership.

She also used the opportunity to pledge $1 billion to the Green Climate Fundspurring calls for more countries to follow suit.

NGOs have urged developed countries to pledge at least $15 billion in climate finance before this year’s COP in Lima, and expectations are high for some of that money to come during the UN Climate Leaders Summit in September.

Norway’s Foreign Minister Boerge Brende has already said that Oslo will unveil its own strong commitment at the summit.

Commenting on the Petersberg Climate Dialogue German environment minister Barbara Hendricks said progress had been made towards the 2015 deadline.

At the Petersberg Climate Dialogue it became clear that we are on the right track and that ideas about the 2015 agreement are converging. However, there are still different opinions on the agreement’s internationally binding character, the degree of regulation and its level of ambition.

Meanwhile, government leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICs) meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil this week, finalised the creation of a new development bank to provide fresh sources of finance for emerging economies.

Observers expressed hope that the bank – set to launch with $50 billion in initial commitments – could be a game-changer and boost clean energy development in these countries.

Preparatory meetings also took place this week on intergovernmental efforts to agree on a post-2015 development agenda.

The growing momentum for climate action shows that countries like Australia, which are repealing climate legislation, are increasingly isolated on the international stage and at risk of ending up on the wrong side of history.

The new momentum for climate action reflects growing support for the ongoing transition from a society run on fossil fuels to a future based on renewables.

This is what communities, businesses and investors are increasingly calling for and investing in, including high-profile campaigners like Malala Yousafzai, Desmond Tutu and Bono, who have written an open letter published in 30 newspapers around the world today, urging world leaders to secure “the future we want for people and planet”.

The letter read:

Which world do you want to live in by 2030? Which world it will be depends upon the decision you make in 2015, and the preparations we make for it now.

The good news is a global movement is coming together for 2015 and the future, inspired by the words of Nelson Mandela: “Like slavery, like apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome by the actions of human beings.” Climate change too can and must be remedied by the actions of human beings.

This movement for people and planet will lead to accolades for those leaders who rise to this historic occasion. It will hold accountable those who fail to help secure a better safer world for all. It will speak up for the marginalised and disenfranchised, and demand justice for all.

As the science is unequivocal, the economic case for climate action clear, and the public demand for change growing, it is now up to governments to create the political frameworks need to increase the scale and speed of the transition.

The Ban Ki-Moon climate summit in New York in September, the UN climate talks in Lima in December and the crucial Paris summit in 2015 are crucial moments for world leaders to position themselves “on the right side of history”.

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