U.S. President Barack Obama has been “laying the groundwork for successful climate change negotiations in Paris this December,” Grist reports, with intensive behind-the-scenes work to win solid climate commitments from China and Brazil as well as initial progress in discussions with India.
“For two decades, large developing countries have refused to curb their emissions, arguing that they can’t be constrained as they try to lift their populations out of poverty, and that rich countries have been responsible for most of the historic climate pollution,” Adler writes. “As recently as last September, at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York, this dynamic persisted.”
But now, “developing nations are getting onboard to curb their emissions and participate fully in a comprehensive global climate change agreement. Getting that initial buy-in from these big developing players is a necessary precondition to getting any agreement to substantially reduce emissions.”
Jake Schmidt, director of NRDC’s international program, said the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan was the proof other countries needed that the U.S. would hold up its end of an eventual climate bargain. “Three years ago, if you had said, ‘China will commit to peak its emissions,’ people would have thrown you out of the room,” he told Grist. But “the more the plan was implemented, the more that showed the Chinese that this is something the U.S. isn’t just talking about, it’s something the U.S. is going to do.”
After that, the breakthrough climate agreement between the U.S. and China “had a cascading effect,” Adler writes. “Now that the biggest developing nation has shown that it’s willing to coordinate with the U.S. on climate policy, other developing nations are more comfortable doing so, too.”
Last week, Bloomberg reported that diplomats working on the Paris agreement “are coalescing around a deal that would commit every country to restricting greenhouse gases but bind none to specific targets,” and that a deal along those lines may be closer than it seems. “There will not be a Big Bang in Paris, but hopefully there will be a big step in the right direction,” said Norwegian diplomat Harald Dovland.
A general deal without binding targets “may seem a tepid effort, given scientists’ warnings of catastrophic climate change,” Bloomberg states. But “it’s still an improvement over the last big meeting, when talks in Copenhagen in 2009 ended without an expected global deal, and with finger-pointing among the U.S., China, and other big polluters.”