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Hope for Progress at UN Climate Talks in Lima

Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal speaking at the Climate Change Conference in Lima, December 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal speaking at the Climate Change Conference in Lima, December 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Representatives from almost 200 countries are meeting in Lima, Peru, for talks on a new United Nations climate treaty.

The new treaty would replace the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that ended in 2012. Delegates in Lima are preparing for next year’s meeting in Paris when they will try to reach a final agreement.

Scientists say the world is on its way toward a temperature increase of two-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Temperatures have already risen by almost one-degree Celsius. Greenhouse gas releases, or emissions, are blamed for the rising temperatures. The gases are created by burning fossil fuels, like coal and petroleum.

The meeting in Lima ends December 12. The delegates are discussing ways to control and reduce those emissions.

The talks opened with a sense of hope for a deal. Last month, the United States agreed to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels. At the same time, China said its emissions would stop rising by about 2030. China and the U.S. are the world’s top climate polluters.

Jennifer Morgan is the Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute. She notes recent signs of progress toward a climate deal, like the UN climate meeting in New York City in September that brought together heads of state and industry leaders. It also led to demonstrations of about 700,000 people in New York and other cities to demand action on climate change. Jennifer Morgan explains what happened next.

“European heads-of-state in October saying here’s our offer to reduce at least 40 percent emissions. And then, the U.S.-China announcement, recently, where those two countries came forward in a pretty historic announcement of what they’re willing to do on their numbers, and their willingness to work together.”

Ms. Morgan says the move could energize other nations to do more.

“If you look at developed countries, it’s fair to say that Australia or Canada haven’t indicated when they are going to table their offer. Well, if China can offer something, certainly they can offer something too.”

She says some developing nations like India and Brazil may also feel challenged to act.

Rajendra Pachauri is the head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On the opening day of talks Monday, he told representatives in Lima that “the window for action is rapidly closing.”

Ms. Morgan says she hopes the meeting in Lima will end with a proposal for a new treaty that will guide negotiators and lead governments to act.

I’m Caty Weaver.

VOA correspondent Rosanne Skirble reported this story from Washington, DC, with additional reporting from Reuters. Ashley Thompson wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

emission - n. the act of producing or sending out something (such as energy or gas) from a source

fossil fuel – n. fuel (such as coal, oil, or natural gas) that is formed in the earth from dead plants or animals

pollute – v. to make (land, water, air, etc.) dirty and not safe or suitable to use

challenge v. to invite (someone) to compete in a game, fight, etc.

Now it’s your turn to use these Words in this Story. In the comments section, write a sentence using one of these words and we will provide feedback on your use of vocabulary and grammar.

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