Prospects rise for a 2015 U.N. climate deal

A global deal to combat climate change in 2015 looks more likely after promises for action by China, the United States and the European Union, but any agreement will probably be too weak to halt rising temperatures.

Delegates from almost 200 nations will meet in Lima, Peru, from Dec. 1-12 to work on the accord due in Paris in a year’s time, also spurred by new scientific warnings about risks of floods, heatwaves, ocean acidification and rising seas.

The hope is that in Paris, delegates will also work out ways to ratchet up national plans in coming years to limit average temperatures rises to an agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above levels before the Industrial Revolution.

China, the United States and the European Union, which together account for more than half of world greenhouse gas emissions, have indicated they want some sort of global accord in Paris, sharply raising the chances of success for the summit.

The new, looser model for a deal is a shift from the U.N.’s existing Kyoto Protocol, which obliges the European Union and a few other rich nations to cut emissions until 2020. But Kyoto only represents about 14 percent of global emissions.

Last month, the European Union set a goal of cutting emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, shifting from fossil fuels toward renewable energies.

And, in a joint announcement with China’s President Xi Jinping on Nov. 11, PresidentBarack Obama set a target of a U.S. emissions cut of 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 – 14 to 16 percent below the U.N. benchmark year of 1990.

China, meanwhile, said it would cap its soaring emissions by “around 2030”. It was the first time China has set a cap, although Beijing gave no numbers and studies by Chinese academics indicate emissions could soar by 30 percent by 2030.