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Will UN climate negotiations lead to a meaningful agreement in 2015?

BusinessGreen.com reports, “[On March 10] climate change negotiators representing 200 countries kicked off the latest round of negotiations [in Bonn, Germany] in what will be a make or break year for efforts to deliver a global agreement to tackle climate change at the Paris Summit in late 2015.”

“With all eyes on Paris in 2015, United Nations climate change chief Christiana Figueres has marked 2014 as a crucial year during which countries will be required to work out exactly how ambitious they are prepared to be in any 2015 deal…. ‘We have to keep our focus and vision on 2014, which will be the year in which most of the work needs to be done.’… She added that diplomats were now aiming to draw up a draft agreement by the next UN Climate Summit in Lima, Peru at the end of this year… ‘[The intent is to have] a first draft of the 2015 agreement available to them for discussion and review in Lima,’ she said.”


Bloomberg adds, “The goal of the treaty is to limit temperature gains since the industrial revolution to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), though island nations are seeking a target of 1.5 degrees to protect them from rising sea levels.”



  1. “[There is a] continued backdrop of continued political tensions over which nations should bear the most responsibility for cutting climate change…. China submitted a statement demanding rich countries set… new targets to slash their emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, based on 1990 levels…. China’s position [is] backed by [India and] the [26-country] ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’ group, which also includes Bolivia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela…. [But with] the European Commission currently proposing a new target to cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 – a full 10 years later than proposed by China – disagreements over the scale of various countries’ emissions reduction targets are set to continue.”

  2. Additionally, “Speaking on behalf of the [Like Minded Developing Countries] group, Philippines Climate Envoy Yeb Sano… called for the UN to establish more formal ‘contact groups’ to ensure open discussions towards the 2015 deal. Previous negotiations have been characterised by secretive talks between groups of countries, which have left many poorer nations feeling locked out of the negotiating process. For example, the Danish ‘alternative’ text at crucial talks in Copenhagen in 2009 sparked fury among developing countries and was partly blamed for the world’s failure to agree a more ambitious deal at the high profile summit.”

  3. And, “One complaint of developing nations is a lack of clarity on how much money richer countries will provide to help [developing countries] cut emissions and adapt to the effects of warmer temperatures such as rising sea levels and melting glaciers. Developed countries… have pledged to ramp aid up to an annual $100 billion, including private funds, in 2020, without spelling out interim levels. China has proposed they commit to $490 billion through 2020, ramping up from $40 billion this year to $100 billion.”

Next steps


“The next Bonn session [in June] should produce a document of 15 pages outlining elements of an eventual deal, to be turned into a draft negotiating text at year end talks in Lima, Jacob Werksman, an envoy from the European Commission, said.”


The Council of Canadians


We were present for the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in 2010. At those summits, we called on the Harper government to commit to an emissions reduction target of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. The 40 per cent emissions reduction target is in keeping with the call for atmospheric carbon to be stabilized at 350 parts per million. We have also stated that Canada’s fair contribution to climate adaptation for the Global South should be $4 billion yearly. And we have argued for inclusion and a democratization of the climate change negotiations process.


We have also stated that water justice requires climate justice. This message was recently reinforced by researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany who developed modeling that shows the impact of 1°C to 2°C of global warming on water scarcity. Currently, 1.5 per cent of the global population struggles with absolute water scarcity and 3 per cent faces chronic water scarcity. At 1°C of warming that rises to 6 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively; at 2°C it hits 9 per cent and 21 per cent. The areas that were hardest hit under the modeling were the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the southern United States, and southern China.


The Council of Canadians has on its calendar the next two United Nations climate summits (COP 20 in Lima, Peru, December 1-12, 2014 and COP 21 in Paris, France, November 30 – December 11, 2015) as possible points of intervention on this critical issue. And we continue to focus on the stopping of the pipelines – Energy East, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain – that would be major contributors to climate change. According to a recent Pembina Institute study, Energy East would lead to the creation of 30 million to 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.