Christiana Figueres is the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This paper is a contribution to the EU-LAC Foundation’s Newsletter edition of December 2014 dedicated to the theme Climate Change.
In December Peru will host a major climate conference. It is a moment in time for an ambitious, scientifically credible and clear vision on where the world needs to aim over the long haul. Bold initiatives are certainly needed now to slow the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, peak global emissions shortly thereafter and rapidly put in place policies capable of delivering clean and resilient development.
The long-term vision is climate neutrality as soon as possible in the second half of the century. There is ample evidence from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global greenhouse gas emissions have to be zero or near zero by the end of the 21st century if we want to achieve the goal of holding a global temperature rise below 2 degrees C. And it is the best guarantee of ensuring that the poor and vulnerable are spared from ever more threatening impacts such as heat waves, crop failures, floods and water shortages that will increasingly threaten their lives and livelihoods; continued, unabated emissions pose an unacceptable risk of pushing our climate system toward potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts to all sectors of society. (read paper)