On March 19, 2015, the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released negotiating text for a new climate change agreement that will be considered for adoption at the December 2015 meeting of the UNFCCC in Paris.
The negotiating text provides alternative language, addressing issues such as mitigation, adaptation, finance, and technology, which could be incorporated into the text of the final Paris agreement. (See the full negotiating text here.) The text proposed on March 19 will be further negotiated at the next UN climate change meeting to be held in Bonn from June 1 to 11, 2015. The goal of the agreement to be adopted at the Paris meeting is to commit all Parties to the Convention to actions that will prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius and that will assist societies in adapting to existing and future climate change. Per various options outlined in the negotiating text, this could require achieving reductions of greenhouse gases ranging from 40 to 70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050. The commitments expected from various Parties will vary depending upon their “national circumstances,” with developed countries likely taking a greater leadership role in actions to be implemented.
This global effort to reduce greenhouse gases is one of the factors driving the U.S. EPA to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants. For example, under section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act, the U.S. EPA has proposed reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030. As part of its justification for the reductions, EPA has stated that it will keep the United States at the forefront of a global movement to produce and consume energy in a more sustainable way.
In releasing the UN negotiating text, Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary said that the December meeting in Paris needs to put the world “on a recognizable track to peak global emissions as soon as possible, achieve a deep de-carbonization of the global economy and reach a climate neutral world in the second half of this century at the latest.”