Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, said today the mood ahead of crucial global climate negotiations in Paris was more positive than ever before.
But Figueres warned the talks on their own would not solve climate change and called on all those participating to act responsibly.
“We’re in a very good mood,” Figueres told a climate event in London. “We’ve already done about 95 per cent of the job [to bring down the rate of emissions].”
Referring to post-2020 climate actions, known as INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), which countries have agreed to set out in Paris, Figueres said: “We already have about 155 national climate change plans from [industrialised] countries and over a 100 developing countries that have already turned in their national climate change plans with their mitigation opportunities already identified.”
Figueres, who was speaking at an event entitled 'Road to Paris' organised by policy think tank the IPPR, said the work already achieved equated to four gigatonnes of emissions reductions, putting the planet in “a little bit of less critical temperature rise” than before the INDCs were drawn up, but not far enough to keep temperatures below 2 Degrees – the level above which scientists believe catastrophic climate change is inevitable.
“We will probably be under 3 Degrees,” Figueres said about the likely outcome of a deal in Paris.
Acknowledging this didn't go far enough, the UN climate chief said “dramatic” changes were still required over the next five to 10 years and this meant everyone needed to play their part, including business.
“We already have a very respectable minority of businesses that are very engaged. Is that enough? No it’s definitely not enough, but […] my sense is that we are beginning to see the middle players […] actually move [in the right direction],” she said.
Figueres also urged negotiators in Paris not to be “irresponsible”.
“This is not a political negotiation amongst countries," she said. "Paris is absolutely critical. We have one more chance in Paris to make sure the direction is the one that we want and the pace accelerates."
The Paris climate talks, also known as COP21, will take place between November 30 to December 11.