Climate Deal: Only A Little Warmer

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

A new draft proposal for a climate agreement was released on Friday, but negotiators don’t seem to have made much progress in reaching consensus. US negotiators criticized the draft for not imposing emissions requirements on developing powerhouses like China and India, while delegations from nations most threatened by global warming rejected it as too weak.

This text calls for more significant cuts from industrialized nations, but lacks concrete goals for developing nations. US climate envoy Todd Stern called it “a constructive step.” But, he continued, the draft “does not in any sense call on major developing countries to set forth their own steps.” Without goals for rapidly developing countries, he said, “We do not believe that as it stands it can serve as the basis for real environmental results.”

And though the draft lacks specific direction on emission targets for China, the Chinese delegates were still apprehensive about it. “I doubt the sincerity of developed countries in their commitment,” said He Yafei, China’s vice foreign minister, at a press conference on Friday.

The draft proposes that developed nations cut emissions by 25 to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This target has received positive reviews from NGOs. But it is a far more ambitious goal than what the United States is expected to accept. The cap-and-trade bill passed by the House included a 17 percent cut below 2005 levels—which is only about 4 percent below 1990 levels. The Senate proposal and the Obama administration’s offer at the summit are also in that range. The draft also calls for limiting warming to either 1.5 or 2.0 degrees Celsius (2.7 or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

While the new text eases tensions after an earlier, weaker draft provoked outrage from poorer nations, it’s a long way from what the most vulnerable countries want.

But this latest draft is still just a road mark in the marathon process of writing a new climate agreement. Actually, it’s probably better to think of it as a relay race. This week’s talks have been conducted by negotiators; over the weekend, ministers will arrive and begin the next level of discussions. The real action won’t take place until the end of next week, when the heads of state arrive.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend