Over the past few years the development of an international agreement on tackling climate change has faced two mayor obstacles. One has been the reluctance of what is now the major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions – China – to take a significant role in the negotiations prior to the December 2015 Paris meeting. This obstacle was overcome by President Xi Jinping’s November 12 commitment to reduce China’s emissions by 2030, a move substantiated by further Chinese coal reduction action on November 19.
The second major obstacle is the need for developed countries to financially help developing countries steer clear of dependence on fossil fuels – an important rich/poor issue. At the Brisbane meeting of the G20 on November 15 President Obama pledged that the US will contribute $3 billion to the UN Green Climate Fund. Next day Japan pledged $1.5 billion, followed by a pledge of $720 million by Britain. Earlier commitments by Germany ($960 million) and France, ($1 billion) with $100 million each from Switzerland and Korea, helped raise the current total in the Green Climate Fund to $9.3 billion. This is just short of $10 billion target for the fund, a target that although perhaps not sufficient, should greatly ease negotiating for the Paris conference.