Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Rare optimism ahead of climate talks in Lima

Published:Sunday | November 30, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Energised by new targets set by China and the United States, the world's top climate polluters, United Nations (UN) global warming talks resume tomorrow with unusual optimism despite evidence that human-generated climate change is already happening and bound to get worse.

Negotiators from more than 190 countries will meet in the Peruvian capital for two weeks to work on drafts for a global climate deal that is supposed to be adopted next year in Paris.

Getting all countries aboard will be a crucial test for the UN talks, which over two decades have failed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Pledges by Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama earlier this month to limit their emissions after 2020 sent a powerful signal that a global deal could be possible next year.

The two countries, which produce about 40 per cent of all global emissions, long have been adversaries in the UN climate talks.

"Climate change will not be solved only by the United States and China. But it certainly will not be solved without them," UN climate chief Christiana Figueres told The Associated Press.

Earlier this year, the European Union announced an emissions target for 2030, meaning the world's three biggest emitters have made pledges. The hope now is that other big polluters including India, Japan, Russia and Australia will set their goals.

In Lima, delegates hope to specify what information should be included when countries submit their formal emissions targets early next year, so that the targets can be compared against each other.

There is little expectation, however, that negotiators will agree on enforceable legal terms. The US and other countries oppose a legally binding emissions treaty, which would face stiff opposition in a Republican-controlled Congress.

The talks in Lima come just a month after a scientific assessment by the UN's expert panel on climate change warned that rising global temperatures could have an irreversible impact on people and ecosystems as glaciers melt, sea levels rise, heat waves intensify and oceans become warmer and more acidic.