China and the U.S. are more willing to act on climate protection, raising the chances for a “breakthrough” in United Nations-sponsored talks to curb global warming, German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said.
The probability of a breakthrough has increased over the last few months despite economic setbacks in Europe and Japan, Altmaier said at a conference in Berlin. That’s mainly due to renewed political momentum in China and the U.S., he said.
“The newly elected Chinese leadership is much more committed to environmental protection, to renewable energies and to climate protection than any other Chinese government in the past,” Altmaier said last night at an energy conference in Berlin. “I’m very optimistic that we can take China aboard to achieve an ambitious 2015 international agreement in Paris.”
The comments raise the bar for envoys from more than 190 nations to make progress in negotiating a treaty that would restrict fossil fuel pollution from 2020 when they meet in Warsaw next month.
World leaders have agreed to contain temperature rises since industrialization to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and the planet has already warmed by an average 0.85 degree since 1880, according to the UN.
Altmaier said he’s also encouraged by U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge made in Berlin in June that climate protection “will have a more prominent role in his second term.” Leaders should use the window of opportunity posed by Obama’s second term, he said.
“We cannot afford to wait two, three, four more years,” he said. “There will be no third term.”