The Climate Race: Lima to Paris and beyond
Reflecting on the relatively weak climate text acceded to by 196 nations here Sunday, which in fairness is intended merely to set the stage for a broader agreement in Paris next December, one is reminded of the familiar tableau at the beginning of a marathon, where hundreds of runners line up to start, but the fastest are placed at the front. The emerging UN climate pact will be like that. Everyone has to take some action to address climate change, but the richest countries and largest emitters of greenhouse gases have to do it much faster.
This inclusive approach is off to a good start. The world’s three biggest emitters— the US, EU, and China, which together account for over half of global emissions--have all made major commitments. Without continuing action by them, and by both developed and developing nations, whose annual emissions are about to pass those in the ‘West’, the race cannot be won.
Now pressure is building on many other major nations—from richer countries like Canada and Australia to emerging economies like Mexico and Brazil to larger developing countries like Indonesia and India—to begin serious efforts to cut or slow their emissions. Many others must take action both to address emissions and maintain political momentum, and strenuous effort and financing, will be needed to help the poorest adapt to inevitable climate impacts.
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Paul Bledsoe is president of Bledsoe & Associates, LLC, a strategic public policy firm specializing in national and global communications on tax policy, energy, natural resources, and climate change, among other issues.
After seven years of work, the world’s leading climate scientists who make up the International Panel on Climate Change issued their gravest assessment yet last month.