Negotiators from 195 nations tasked with crafting a universal climate pact are driven by twin fears tugging in opposite directions, which may result in a hollow deal, say analysts.
The all-too-real prospect of climate catastrophe on a horizon of decades, not centuries, coupled with a rising tide of expectations, would seem to be powerful incentives to forge an agreement that is truly up to the task.
Science makes it clear that the laissez-faire alternative is a climate-addled future of mega-storms, drought, water wars and mass migration.
It is also a reminder that the window of opportunity for acting is barely ajar — if human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases don’t peak very soon and drop very swiftly, it may soon slam shut.
At the same time, however, career diplomats — and their political bosses — working on the nitty-gritty of the deal to be inked in Paris in December are haunted by another fear subtly nudging them in the opposite direction: the fear of failure.
“Our concern is that we will end up with a lowest common denominator, where everybody just agrees on the least ambitious options,” said Li Shuo of Greenpeace China.
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