By, Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
The Economic Times
At the heart of these negotiations is the most challenging energy transformation the world has ever seen. Past energy transitions have taken a long time to unfold. Firewood was not displaced by coal until the 18th century. It took one century for oil to replace coal as the primary fuel. Climate changemotivates a move towards more renewables and enhanced energy efficiency, and adds urgency to an otherwise normal evolution.
Time is not on our side. Science tells us that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak this decade and decrease rapidly thereafter. More importantly, peaking of global emissions must occur soon if we are to lessen human costs, such as from extreme weather events, in particular to the most vulnerable.
The UN is the only platform that grants all countries, large and small, access to global decision-making. The shift toward low carbon requires global participation. All the more, given the scale and pace of economic development. The low-emission economies of today, even on a per-capita basis, can and will become high-emission economies of tomorrow faster than was ever possible unless they are adequately supported and encouraged to engineer clean energy futures for themselves.
In Doha, 37 countries – all EU members, Australia, Belarus, Croatia, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Norway, Switzerland andUkraine - adopted legally-binding emission-reduction targets, bringing them collectively to a level 18 per cent below their 1990 baselines over the next eight years. The targets are underpinned by stricter accounting rules and are open to further strengthening by 2014.
Also, all countries confirmed their determination to reach an agreement applicable to all by December 2015. Governments are driving change, but have not yet proven their intent through a robust and immediate implementation of what has already been promised. Governments must and can accelerate climate-change action, not because of altruistic reasons but because it is in their national interest to do so. MORE