Climate Change Talks Agree On First Steps That Could Save Our Planet

The BBC is reporting that the United Nations talks on Climate Change have reached an agreement on how countries should tackle changes to the world’s climate.

The talks have proven to be very difficult, with poorer nations insisting that richer countries must take the lead if climate change is to be tackled effectively. The BBC claims that nobody got everything they wanted, but the Guardian says that all the countries involved in the climate talks got something. The Guardian goes on to say that the deal commits every nation to cutting the emissions that are the major cause of climate change.

There will be considerable relief this morning that the climate talks reached an agreement as it had looked likely that an agreement would not be reached. The deal struck early Sunday – now officially known as the Lima Call for Climate Action – would, for the first time, require all countries, rising economies as well as rich countries, to take action on climate change.

Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the chair of the talks, said, “I think this is good, and I think this moves us forward.”

For the first time, China, whose emissions have overtaken the US since the climate talks began, has agreed they will need to cut their emissions. India, Brazil, and other rising economies also agreed to the plan.

It had been feared that the talks on Climate Change would break up without an agreement, but the final text appeased developing countries concerned that too heavy a burden was placed on emerging economies to address climate change. Even with the agreement, the UN Climate Change secretariat and environmental groups have said that the combined pledges by all nations will be too weak to achieve a goal of limiting climate change to an agreed goal of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

On Saturday, US climate change envoy Todd Stern had warned that the deadlock in the negotiations threatened the chances of a new global climate change deal next year, saying it would be seen as “a major breakdown”. This would be a major concern as all indications are that 2014 will be the warmest year on record. While the agreed text of the climate change agreement calls for nations to set ambitious targets that go beyond current target, there is widespread criticism by environmental groups who said the proposals were nowhere near drastic enough.

Sam Smith, chief of climate policy for the environmental group WWF, said: “The text went from weak to weaker to weakest and it’s very weak indeed.”

Jagoda Munic, the chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, said fears the talks would fail to deliver “a fair and ambitious outcome” had been proven “tragically accurate.”

While this can be seen as an important first step, it remains to be seen if the agreement will lead to a meaningful effort to tackle the root causes of Climate Change.