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UN members reach climate deal

By Agencies in Lima | China Daily | Updated: 2014-12-15 07:47

Countries agree to submit strategies for reductions of greenhouse gases

About 190 nations agreed on Sunday on the building blocks of a new-style global deal due in 2015 to combat climate change amid warnings that far tougher action will be needed to limit rising world temperatures.

Under the Lima deal, governments will submit national plans for reining in greenhouse gas emissions by an informal deadline of March 31 to form the basis of a global agreement due at a summit in Paris in a year's time.

The texts, breaking a deadlock among weary delegates almost two days into overtime after two weeks of talks, appeased the concerns of developing countries led by China and India that previous drafts imposed too heavy a burden on emerging economies compared with the rich.

"We've got what we wanted," said Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javedekar, adding that the text preserved the notion enshrined in a 1992 climate convention that the rich have to lead the way in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

It also satisfied rich nations led by the United States who say it is time for fast-growing emerging economies to rein in fast-rising emissions. China is now the biggest greenhouse gas emitter ahead of the United States, the EU and India.

"This is a good document to pave the way to Paris," EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said at the end of two weeks of talks about limiting more floods, desertification, heat waves and rising sea levels.

Some environmental groups, however, said the deal, reached at a tent city on a military base in Lima, was far too weak.

"We went from weak to weaker to weakest," Samantha Smith of the World Wildlife Fund conservation group said of successive drafts at the Lima talks. "This leaves a huge amount for governments and everyone else to do in the next 12 months."

New style

The idea of a UN deal with obligations for all nations marks a shift from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which obliges only the rich to cut emissions.

"What we are seeing is a new form of international cooperation on climate change where all countries participate with a new set of rules," said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute think tank.

But it leaves a lot of work for 2015.

"I am not going to say it will be a walk in the park in Paris," said Ed Davey, British secretary of state for energy and climate change.

The UN Climate Change Secretariat said that the combined pledges by all nations likely in Paris will be too weak to achieve a goal of limiting warming to an agreed goal of 2C.

Under the Lima deal, national pledges will be added up in a report by Nov 1 to assess their aggregate effect in slowing rising temperatures.

But, after opposition led by China, there will not be a full-blown review to compare each nation's level of ambition. In a deal with the United States last month, China agreed to cap its emissions by around 2030.

And the text lays out a vast range of options for the Paris accord, including the possibility of aiming for zero net global emissions by 2100 or earlier in a drastic shift from fossil fuels toward renewable energies such as wind and solar power.

Reuters - AFP

 UN members reach climate deal

Indigenous dancers participate in a traditional healing ceremony at El Salvador del Mundo Square in San Salvador, to ask for solutions to stop climate change and respect planet earth during the UN Climate Change Conference in Peru. Jose Cabezas / Reuters

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