The UN Climate Change Negotiations 2-6 November in Barcelona will be the final negotiating session before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, at which a comprehensive, fair and effective international climate change deal is to be sealed. The Copenhagen meeting will in turn be the culmination of a two-year negotiating process launched in Bali. The UN Climate Change Conference needs to provide a definitive response to what is arguably the greatest challenge ever to face humanity. And it is clear what needs to happen at the end of the year for Copenhagen to be termed a success.
World leaders meeting in New York in September clearly called for a climate change deal to be clinched this year that ensures enhanced action to assist the most vulnerable and the poorest to adapt to the impacts of climate change. They also stressed that ambitious emission reduction targets are required for industrialised countries, as well as the need for nationally-appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support. Furthermore, they underlined the need for significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources and an equitable governance structure. All of these five essential elements are embedded in the texts that Parties governments have created and will be further consolidated and refined in Barcelona.
At the recent UN Climate Change meeting in Bangkok, UN Climate Change negotiators provided more clarity on the "bricks and mortar" of the Copenhagen agreed outcome. But whilst a will has emerged to build the architecture to rapidly implement climate action, significant differences remain. The Barcelona meeting can only make real progress if negotiators receive the necessary guidance from their political leaders to complete their work. Bold leadership must open the roadblocks around the essential sticking points of mid-term targets for industrialised countries and finance for mitigation and adaptation for developing countries.
The Spanish artist Pablo Picasso once said: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” The clock is ticking down, with only five days of negotiating time remaining for delegates before the Copenhagen conference begins. Future generations will remember both the Barcelona and Copenhagen meetings for what they need to be: turning points in the climate change process, turning points away from catastrophic climate change and towards a low-carbon society.