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United Nations climate change pact negotiations continue to advance

Bonn, Germany- After a weeklong session of negotiations in Bonn, the United Nations has moved forward in its efforts to put together a climate change pact. So far negotiators have simply been trying to compile all of the relevant information and hot points regarding climate change, and the actual work of hashing out a pact has remained uncompleted. Now, leading officials have given the greenlight for the negotiations to progress to the next stage, meaning the actual writing of the pact itself.

The biggest rift between negotiators has been between developed and developing countries. Many negotiators from developing countries fear that efforts to curb their greenhouse gas emissions could severely restrict economic growth. Said negotiators have also pointed out that many already developed countries have been pumping out massive amounts of greenhouse gases for decades, and thus should bear the brunt of the burden.

Negotiators from developed countries, however, have been pointing out that this is a global issue, and will need to be addressed on a global scale. Developed countries also appear to be wary of potential liability claims by other countries that may be affected by global warming.

The climate change deal will attempt to curb the worrisome rise in greenhouse gases that many scientist claim is causing the Earth to warm. If the Earth’s temperatures were to rise be even a few degrees, it could upset the delicate balance of the world’s ecosystems and could cause vast changes in weather patterns.

The world is seeing an increasing number of severe weather related problems. A massive and prolonged drought in Syria, for example, is being blamed by many for causing the instability now seen in the region. Meanwhile, the United States is facing what could amount to a record breaking blizzard season.

Given the potential threat of global warming, negotiators have been wary of drawing up a sort of “lowest common denominator” bill that would only half-heartedly address climate change, but would be politically appeasing to governments not ready to take the problem head on. Signing such a politically expedient deal could actually mark a defeat for negotiators. It could given citizens the false impression that climate change is being dealt with, when in reality the quick fixes would amount to nothing more than temporary bandaids, at best.

The deal has been in the works for quite a long time, but progress has been slow. Just a few weeks ago it seemed possible that negotiations might collapse completely, but recent progress has put the deal back on track. As of now, negotiators are aiming for a deadline in October of 2016, so that a deal can be signed and put in place by December, but given the progress made thus far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the deadline pushed back.

Co-chair Dan Reifsnyder has promised that the deal will be “clear, concise, and comprehensive”. Reifsnyder claims that several clear milestones have been laid out for between now and next October, and that the parties are now ready to engage in “full negotiating mode.”

Whether or not the deal will be able to get past national hurdles, such as an American Congress that has thus far largely rejected climate change, or the fact that many developing countries, such as China, are more concerned with economic growth now than potential global warming later, also remains to be seen. In spite of the wealth of scientific literature supporting the grave threat posed by global warming, many political leaders remain only half committed to addressing the issue.