Countries are gathering for the latest round of United Nations climate talks this week as warnings mount over the dangers of failing to tackle global warming and European officials and campaigners are leading the push for a new globally binding treaty by 2015, which the EU and a coalition of developing countries managed to get the world to agree to negotiate last year – as the unlikely alliance of organisations including likes of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the insurance industry and the CIA warned about the dangers of climate change. The World Bank has warned the world is on track for temperatures rises of 4C by the end of the century, while the International Energy Agency has said only a third of proven fossil fuel reserves can be exploited if the 2C target is to be met.
The talks come against a backdrop of extreme weather events such as superstorm Sandy and this summer’s drought in the US, and heavy record breaking rains in the UK, which are predicted to get more frequent as the climate changes. The talks have previously seen countries agree to take action to limit temperature rises to 2C and last year in Durban nations signed up to negotiate a new legally binding global deal to cut emissions by 2015, that would come into force for 2020 as the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, the original climate deal to cut emissions which the US never ratified, comes to an end. Part of the agreement to negotiate a new treaty is that Kyoto will continue into a second period, but only the European Union, Australia and a handful of other countries have agreed to sign up to the second phase of the protocol. The talks aim to secure a continuation of Kyoto and the rules on cutting emissions that it provides, and campaigners also hope negotiators will address loopholes which allow too much pollution.
Rich countries are also under pressure to provide finance to help poor nations develop cleanly and cope with the impacts of climate change as the first tranche of promised money comes to end this year.
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