14 Dec 2014

New climate change plan agreed by over 190 nations

The world’s worst polluters agree to a new plan to tackle climate change, but some environmental campaigners are scathing about the deal.

climate change talks global warming environment ice caps

A UN deal on climate change has been hailed as an “important breakthrough” for requiring developing countries, and not just rich ones, to control their greenhouse gas emissions.

New compromises were struck between emerging and developed nations over how to tackle climate change, with both China and the US – two of the world’s biggest polluters – content with the new deal.

We went from weak to weaker to weakest WWF spokesperson on the deal’s changing drafts

Governments will need to submit new plans early next year for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.

These will then form the basis for global agreement at a summit in Paris at the end of the year – but this means that most decisions on how to tackle climate change will be delayed for a year.

climate change talks global warming environment ice caps

Samantha Smith from conservation group WWF was highly critical of successive drafts of the agreement at Lima, saying: “We went from weak to weaker to weakest.”


The final agreement was reached after two days of extra talks following two weeks of negotiations which came close to collapsing.

There had been concern that early drafts imposed too much of a burden on developing countries like China and India compared with the rich.

Read: Climate change 'irreversible' if fossil fuels stay dominant

The deal satisfied the US, which said it was time for fast-growing economies to put a halt on rising emission levels.

China is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, ahead of the US, EU and India.

The prospect of a UN deal imposing requirements on all nations marks a significant shift from the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which only requires rich nations to cut their emissions.

‘Irreversible’ effects

A climate change report in November warned the world faces “severe, widespread and irreversible” effects if moves were not made to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

climate change talks global warming environment ice caps

Solutions are available to cut emissions by 2020, but the pledges made by countries to cut greenhouse gases are not enough, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

About 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in recent decades was carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industrial processes, the IPCC said.

It added that power from low-carbon energy sources, including renewables and nuclear power, would need to be scaled up from 30 per cent of electricity generation now to more than 80 per cent by mid-century to limit rising temperatures.

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, said the new Lima approach to tackling climate change was “a very important breakthrough”.

But Jagoda Munic, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, said concerns that the talks would be unable to deliver “a fair and ambitious outcome” had turned out to be “tragically accurate”.