Written by By Fatima Chattoo, CNN London
With the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn in full swing, negotiators from around the world have reached an important deal to set the ball rolling in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The agreement was signed late Thursday and is based on a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
The deal deals with a host of issues, including financing for efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, to share clean technologies and raise ambition levels.
It was negotiated in a last-minute huddle as the parties prepared to leave for home late Thursday and only the document had been agreed upon.
“It’s actually a strong agreement that has been reached today,” said Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“Each country needs to make progress on these goals and we need the international community to keep up its pressure.”
In the hours before the agreement was signed, negotiators from all 196 parties (countries, equivalent to a population of about 7 billion) agreed to establish a system to manage national pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2020, and pledged to engage in regular discussions to assess their progress.
All promises to cut emissions need to be in place by 2020 if they are to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius target by the end of the century.
Levels of average global temperature are expected to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius in some regions by the end of the century, exceeding the threshold considered safe by governments. However, as temperatures are rising slower than expected by many experts, some think the world could avoid breaking the 1.5 degrees Celsius target before the end of the century.
“Given the scale of need, and given the logic of this measure, it is very likely that the temperature will be far below that limit until the end of the century,” said Dana Nemcova, senior director for sustainable investing at the non-profit Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Failure to act could have dire consequences. A report commissioned by the UN warns this will lead to increased conflict over scarce water resources and food and further intensify hurricanes, storms and droughts.
“It’s a planetary imperative and the international community must unite to tackle it,” said Mark Knoller, an AFP correspondent at the conference and former chief White House correspondent, in an interview with CNN.
“This is an opportunity for President Trump to pull out and let them say this was a disaster but they’re not going to do that. The really important thing here is the United States has agreed to agree to reduce emissions by 2030 — they’re not going to add any more to existing pledges that they’ve made in Paris.
“This is a big achievement,” Knoller added. “And frankly in the end, all these changes are going to be voluntary — this is not international law.”
But it will still take many years of action to curb emissions, with countries committed to reducing climate pollution by 28% by 2025 and by 45% by 2030.
The agreement is also a win for Brazil, which has faced pressure to make a deal after it announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement this summer.
Many environmental groups had also pushed Brazil to sign the deal, arguing that a failure to do so would diminish the deal’s impact, with little hope of reviving its reputation as a global climate leader.
“It was part of our response to what had happened in recent weeks,” said U.N. official Marzuki Darusman, who negotiated the deal in Brazil this week.
“The negotiating here in Bonn has been a marathon,” he said, referring to the intense week of talks during which almost all countries were present.
The spirit of the agreement, Darusman said, was to start saving the planet “by sacrificing nothing” and then move forward on reaching the goal of the Paris Agreement.