Climate change: ‘the Paris goals are within reach’

Climate change: ‘the Paris goals are within reach’

The rise in temperatures could be much less than previously feared if governments make good on their commitments

There are very few things that unite Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron these days — but climate change is one of them. The two leaders of the UK and France, who are spending the weekend deadlocked in painful last-ditch, Brexit negotiations, are also co-hosting a virtual climate summit on Saturday.

Amid the gloom of the coronavirus crisis and the geopolitical sniping it has prompted, the summit is likely to be a surprising success: the leaders of more than 70 countries have made new pledges in recent weeks and months to reduce emissions.

The event will even be attended by President Xi Jinping of China who earlier this year said China, the world’s biggest emitter, would become carbon-neutral by 2060.

It has been exactly five years since the signing of the Paris climate accord, an idealistic pact in which 189 countries agreed to limit global warming to well below 2C, hopefully around 1.5C. For most of the past five years, that goal has seemed very far out of reach. Squabbling nations struggled to agree on many of the rules of the agreement; global emissions kept rising; and the world’s second-biggest emitter, the US, withdrew from the pact entirely.