Berlin climate talks end with pledge to ‘inspire and enable’ action

By Ed King

Climate talks concluded in Berlin yesterday with an acknowledgement from developed countries that they urgently need to ‘inspire and enable’ more climate action ahead of a 2015 global emissions deal.

In a statement heavy on words but light on detail released late on Tuesday, Germany’s Peter Altmaier and Poland’s Marcin Korolec said delegates agreed the world was currently heading for dangerous levels of climate change.

“Ministers noted with great concern that the action currently planned is not enough to limit temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius,” the co-chairs wrote.

“In order to do that, all countries must inspire and enable urgently more climate action, collectively and individually, with developed countries taking the lead. Several Ministers pointed to the summit in 2014, announced by the UN Secretary-General, as an important milestone in this regard.”

35 ministerial-level representatives sporting a dubious array of suits attended the 2013 Petersberg Climate Dialogue

Minister-level representatives from 35 countries were in the German capital for the annual Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which is a decent indicator of the political will around the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of global warming.

Delegates in Berlin included US climate envoy Todd Stern, China climate negotiator Su Wei, together with representatives from the EU, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia and developing states.

Poland hosts the main UN climate summit later this year, which will leave negotiators 24 months to work out how the 195 parties to the international climate convention can agree on a legally binding emissions deal.

Ministers appear set on wanting the “elements and functions of the agreement” clarified in early 2014, with a draft text ready by March 2015.

A world leaders climate summit hosted by Ban Ki Moon during the 2014 General Assembly meeting is likely to offer negotiators further clues as to the political desire to build a binding deal.

Uncertain framework

A variety of proposals for the 2015 deal were discussed at UN talks held in Bonn last week, ranging from ‘pledge and review’ submissions to tight legal quotas.

While this aspect of a deal is still up for debate, the statement from Korolec and Altmaier suggests US calls for a looser agreement based on national targets have not been accepted by a majority of nations.

“Designing an ambitious, fair and effective 2015 climate agreement with regards to the 2015 agreement, Ministers were clear that a design based on the lowest common denominator will not be sufficient,” they said.

“On the contrary, they stressed that the new agreement should contain strong incentives for bold action and innovative ways of generating a race to the top in delivering climate action.”

Stressing the economic and health benefits of a low carbon economy, together with the increased role of the private sector in leading transformation, the statement also stresses the importance of building public support for these changes.

“Ministers stressed that without engagement from the general public and their acceptance for practical solutions proposed, the impetus behind more climate action will be lost and successful implementation will fail,” they said.

“They noticed that there are many ways to directly engage constituencies. Awareness raising on action undertaken around the globe is key. Proactive communication with the public is therefore essential.”

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