A coalition of over 100 countries has emerged at the Paris Climate Talks to push for a strong and binding deal. It has called itself the “high ambition coalition” and represents a majority of the countries at the conference. Notable exceptions are China and India.
Four issues are the group’s focus: a legally binding agreement; clear long-term goals confirmed by scientific advice; a means to review countries’ emissions commitments every five years; and a system for tracking countries’ progress.
Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU climate commissioner, said: “These negotiations are not about them and us. They are about all of us, developed and developing countries, finding common ground and solutions together. We urge other countries to join us. Together we can do it.”
The group was initially known as “the informal ministerial gathering”, but the name “the high ambition coalition” was coined in a press conference on Monday.
Tony De Brum said he had personally requested meetings with Australia, Poland, Canada and India but none of the partners had yet reached out to the world’s biggest obstacle – China.
Some countries, including China and India, seem to have reservations about potential elements of a deal. India is unhappy with a five-year review of targets, and with plans to include a target of limiting future warming to 1.5C, instead of 2C which scientists say is the limit of safety, beyond which extreme weather could become catastrophic and irreversible.
The US wants some aspects of any deal not to be legally binding, though it may agree to the main architecture of any settlement be binding.
Ministers from the 195 countries at the talks are now working on the draft text of a possible agreement.
What we see here is the attempts of the smaller countries, the smaller polluters, to make the biggest push for change. Yet they are still at risk of being held back by the biggest players and those who have the most to lose.
This coalition is in fact a blessing in disguise for the bigger polluters because as the old Cree Indian saying goes: “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realise that you cannot eat money.”
Image credit: flickr.com/hythe-eye