The ‘stars are aligning’ ahead of ‘most important environmental summit in history’, says UN climate change chief
The most important environmental meeting in history is on course to decisively tackle climate change as an “unstoppable and irreversible” momentum builds to “green the planet”, the United Nations climate change chief has told The Independent.
Christiana Figueres says she is confident that December’s UN summit in Paris – regarded as the most important so far – will deliver its ambitious target to agree on action drastic enough to limit global warming to 2C. Beyond this level, the consequences of climate change become increasingly devastating.
“The stars are aligning towards a Paris agreement that will establish a pathway that keeps us within the limit of 2C,” Ms Figueres said.
“What is unique here is that everyone is realising that this truly is a very, very urgent moment in the history of addressing climate change. That this is a moment we cannot afford to miss.
“And because everybody is mobilised in the same direction, we actually have a very good chance of doing something meaningful.”
As executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the international body charged with tackling global warming, Ms Figueres will be in charge of the Paris negotiations and the crucial rounds of discussions preceding them.
The target world leaders have set the summit will require countries to make ambitious and legally binding cuts to their carbon emissions. And the negotiations will be made much harder by the political difficulty of getting nearly 200 governments to agree a highly complex and potentially contentious treaty in which the scale of the emissions cuts will vary significantly between countries.
One particular bone of contention lies in the way the developed countries – which are historically responsible for the bulk of carbon emissions – share the burden of emissions cuts with the developing countries, which these days are responsible for the growing majority of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere.
But Ms Figueres is increasingly confident that these difficulties will be overcome. “I would be hard-pressed to find one sector that is not moving forward with communication that is so much better than we had in the past and, even more importantly, with carbon reduction commitments themselves,” she said.
“Whether you look at the investment community, the insurance community, cities, territories, states or companies – it really is quite impressive to see the unending procession of commitment and action underway. It is unstoppable, it is irreversible. What Paris is going to do is to confirm that pathway and give it a legal basis,” Ms Figueres said.
Press link for more: Tom Bawden | independent.co.uk