On 5 May 2014 the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a meeting of government ministers and leaders from business, finance and civil society, kick started an international effort to build ambition around a new post Copenhagen climate change agreement.
The process will culminate in the UN climate change meeting in Paris in December 2015, when governments have agreed to finalise a new international climate change agreement with legal force to be implemented by 2020.
The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, when current Kyoto protocol commitments and Copenhagen pledges expire. The Paris agreement is additionally expected to include new commitments on financing for mitigation and adaptations as well as mechanism for transferring climate change technologies to developing countries.
Recent efforts and their effects
According to Brookings Institution, the key challenge over the next 20 months will be convincing the major greenhouse gas emitters that collectively their actions towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions will put the world on track to meet the agreed upon goal of keeping global temperatures within a 2 °C increase above pre-industrial levels.
Currently, the sum of commitments that governments have made to 2020 falls well short of this goal. The 2013 UNEP emissions gap report found that even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be 8 – 12 gigations of CO2 equivalent above the level needed to have a chance of remaining below temperature increases of 2 °C.
Raising ambition levels
In order to enhance ambition in regards to reducing emissions, the Abu Dhabi Ascent will be followed by a series of meeting of leaders that will provide crucial opportunities to generate momentum.
Significant milestone between now and Paris 2015 include the UN Secretary general led Climate Summit in September 2014 and the G-20 meetings in November 2014 and 2015. Other key meetings include the Clean Energy Ministerial and Major Economics Forum.
The Brookings Institution has highlighted that bilateral agreements offer another significant means of reducing emissions. For example, the US and China are looking at ways to advance energy cooperation and climate change reduction through their Climate Change Working Group. In addition, the US and India have an agreement intended to accelerate progress on clean energy and address climate change.
Bilateral agreements are a way of building trust among key countries, which is essential is leaders are going to be able to reach a deal in Paris on post-2020 carbon reduction consistent with the original goal of keeping global temperature increase below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.
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