Sticking Points for the Paris Climate Talks

At the Paris climate talks, where ministers are hammering out an international deal to curb climate change, two huge debates remain unresolved: the long-term global warming target and the amount and nature of finance that will flow to poor countries, a debate that hinges on differentiation of developing country and developed country responsibilities.

“Whether the text will also take into account a very justifiable request from the most vulnerable countries to improve on those efforts, it remains to be seen how that is going to be handled,” said United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres. “It wouldn’t surprise me if there is a recognition of the intense vulnerability of some nations.”

It’s about Money and Temperature Goals

Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, writes from the climate talks in Paris.

The central objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that prevents dangerous interference with Earth’s climate system. The collective proposed efforts of all countries’ pre-Paris emissions pledges, or intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), add up to approximately 3 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels—well short of the 2 degree Celsius goal established at the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in 2009.

Many countries are now advocating for a target of 1.5 C or, alternatively, well below 2 C, but there are no real provisions for revisiting INDCS this week to pursue a 2 C or 1.5 C target. One commenter suggests that the objective of the Paris agreement is not to assign and enforce a temperature goal that will keep the planet safe but to create the “structure and momentum for [mitigation] efforts that are already underway.” However, the difference between 1.5, 2, or 3 C may —> Read More