A New Global Warming Accord On The Horizon?

As climate talks in Lima enters its final day there are still long-running issues dividing the parties. Earlier in the week it seemed that the diplomats from 196 countries were closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, albeit – still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming.

The draft that was circulating among negotiators on Tuesday represented a fundamental breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations for two decades as it has tried to forge a new treaty to counter global warming. The key to breaking through the impasse was that the draft did not bind nations to a single, global benchmark for emissions reductions.

Under the terms of the draft, every country would publicly commit to enacting its own plans to reduce emissions — with governments choosing their own targets, guided by their domestic politics, rather than by the amounts that scientists say are necessary.

The plan is to reach a global deal to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year, incorporating 196 separate emissions pledges.

Until recently, the United States and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters, have been at the center of the impasse over a climate deal.

But in November, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced plans to reduce emissions, helping inject new life into the global climate talks.

Perhaps tomorrow, we will know how impactful the US and China’s new commitment to emission reduction are in these talks.