UN reaches global warming agreement, countries to cut carbon emissions

UN delegates approve watered-down climate change agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Climate change talks binds all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions in fight against global warming.
Climate change talks binds all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions in fight against global warming.

United Nations members at the Lima climate change talks have agreed on a plan to tackle global warming that would for the first time commit all countries to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan, agreed during the United Nations talks on Sunday, was hailed as an important first step towards a climate change deal due to be finalised in Paris next year.

Difference over the draft text caused the talks in the Peruvian capital to overrun by two days because of division between rich and poor countries over how the spread the burden of pledges to cut carbon emissions.

But despite the landmark agreement for all countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, environmental groups have said the deal weakens international climate rules, while negotiators acknowledged that they had put off the most difficult decisions for later.

The five-page text agreed on Sunday – now officially known as the Lima Call for Climate Action – bounds all countries to pledge action on climate change; while wealthy countries would help development countries fight climate change by investing in clean energy technology or offering climate aid.

Countries already threatened by climate change – such as small island states which face being swallowed up by rising seas – were promised a “loss and damage” programme of financial aid.

The all-inclusive nature of the emissions cuts constitutes a break with one of the defining principles of the last 20 years of climate talks – that wealthy countries should carry the burden of cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

Peru's environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who chaired the summit, told reporters: "As a text it's not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties."

The final draft is said to have alleviated those concerns with by saying countries have "common but differentiated responsibilities".

"We've got what we wanted," Indian environment minister Prakash Javedekar told reporters, saying the document preserved the notion that richer nations had to lead the way in making cuts in emissions.

Environmental groups said the plan was far took weak to limit warming to the internationally agreed limit of 2C above pre-industrial levels, or to protect poor countries from climate change.

Campaigners said that would make it increasingly difficult to be sure the deal would manage to keep the temperature increase within the 2-degree threshold.

“It’s definitely watered down from what we expected,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

They also warned negotiators had left too many contentious issues unresolved before the deadline for reaching a deal in Paris. 

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