For the administration, holding the line against the GOP efforts will be crucial to ensuring the U.S. standing in global talks isn't undercut.
A Fragile Ship Is Still Afloat
At Lima, diplomats agreed that every nation will outline a pledge to curb carbon emissions by March 2015. Advocates and negotiators arrived at Lima riding a wave of optimism, especially after the landmark U.S.-China agreement announced last month signaled the possibility of developed and emerging nations coming together after years of discord over how to divide responsibility for curbing heat-trapping emissions.
But the difficult talks in Lima blew 30 hours past their deadline and appeared close to collapse at times, a reminder that getting nations on the same page is difficult. In the end, negotiators declared victory, saying that talks will keep the process moving forward. Top U.S. climate diplomat Todd Stern called it a "good outcome and one that will get us started on the way to Paris," according to ClimateWire.
Few were overjoyed, however. The Union of Concerned Scientists said the talks ended with "decisions that represent the bare minimum needed to move the process to Paris," and several advocates expressed dismay that the text grew weaker during the final stages of the talks.
Still, the outcome advances plans for a global climate pact that will, unlike the 1997 Kyoto protocol, ensure at least some level of action on emissions by the big developing countries where pollution is rising.
Robert Stavins, a Harvard University expert on global climate policy, said in a blog post Sunday that negotiators are now on track for a final pact that brings every nation into the fold. "A new way forward has been established in which all countries participate and which therefore holds promise of meaningful global action to address the threat of climate change," writes Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.
It (Probably) Won't Be Enough
Despite cheers from negotiators leaving Lima, the deal falls short of ensuring the steep worldwide pollution cuts that scientists warn are needed to prevent the most dangerous effects of climate change.
The target of the United Nations-hosted climate process is to limit the rise in global temperatures to under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But the architecture of the emerging plan rests on a series of nationally decided commitments that are unlikely to ensure the steep emissions cuts that experts say are needed to meet that target. Environmental watchdogs said the Lima deal would not achieve the stated aim. "The outcome here does little to break the world from a path to 3 degrees warming or higher," Oxfam said in a statement.
The IPCC has warned that global emissions must peak in the next few years before falling to zero by the end of the century for the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But global emissions, driven in part by the increased use of fossil fuels by nations such as India and China, are currently on the rise.