Headline issue

International agreements are built on shared understanding. So how should a climate change agreement be built at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris in December 2015?

The UNFCCC negotiations leading up to Paris have been organised on the basis that each country or region will determine their own contribution to the global climate mitigation effort.This more decentralised approach seems likely to lead to more ambitious commitments from many key countries.

We are already seeing promising signs such as the joint announcement by the US and China in Beijing in November 2014 and the decision of the European Council a few weeks before. Together these cover around 50% of world emissions .These decisions are important and substantive steps in a sensible direction and suggest seriousness about a strong agreement in Paris in 2015.

This policy report sets out four propositions required for an ambitious, dynamic and collaborative agreement in Paris in December 2015.

Key points

  • The risks from unmanaged climate change are potentially immense and delay is dangerous.
  • The path to a low-carbon economy can be highly attractive, embodying strong and high quality growth, investment and innovation in the context of rapid global structural transformation
  • The agreement should be based on a shared commitment to creating “equitable access to sustainable development”
  • The agreement should be structured to facilitate dynamic and collaborative interactions between parties. Governments should not insist that an agreement be an internationally legally-binding treaty.
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