Almost 150 heads of state, including David Cameron, Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are heading to Paris for the start of the most important environmental meeting for decades.
Ahead of the summit, more than 175 countries have tabled pledges (known as intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs) to cut their carbon emissions which, if enacted, would be enough to limit global warming to 2.7C. But the United Nations has pledged to limit climate change to 2C – and would much prefer it to be 1.5C.
This means there is much work to be done in Paris. Although nobody is expecting an agreement that will guarantee to limit global warming to 2C, the UN climate chief Christiana Figueres is determined to enshrine a process that paves the way for the world to be able to meet that target further down the line. Here are some of the different interest groups and what they want from Paris:
Kevin Anderson: Professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester
“I judge that the best Paris can now deliver is a very slim chance of staying below 2C. And if 2C is to be anything more than a rhetorical excuse for another international jamboree, Paris needs to deliver rates of mitigation far beyond the unscientific and inequitable levels voluntarily offered by national governments [in their INDCs].”
Ben van Beurden: Chief executive of Shell
“We would very much like to see the 2C target being adopted. But more importantly, we would like to see adopted a sensible set of policies that will get us there, because just agreeing a target is not going to do the trick. An important element is to put a price on carbon [emissions] because that will enable – if the right price is set – the development of the technologies we are going to need if we do want to limit carbon emissions to be in line with the 2C scenario.”
Christiana Figueres: United Nations’ climate chief
“The collective impact of the national climate change plans is quite remarkable. Of course, it doesn’t mean we will get to 2C and that is where we ultimately need to get to, but it is certainly a departure from business as usual and it already points the way.”