Many observers have low expectations, given that the UN requires unanimity from nation-states, fossil fuel interests have political control in so many nations, and the convention itself seems to have given up on an international treaty and is focusing instead on adding up nationally adopted actions.
There are five months remaining until COP21; however, there are less than 10 days of negotiations left until the Paris meeting -- only two more meetings of negotiators, one in August and one in October. This is not very much time at all to finalize the conditions of the framework and have all parties agree to implementation.
Leading up to the 2015 climate talks, the importance of national policies in addressing climate change is beyond vital. We must decide how we contribute to the climate agenda with our national priorities, circumstances and capabilities with referene to the global framework that drives collective action toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
It's a challenge faced by forest people around the world, and one that impacts all of us. Indeed, the loss of pristine forest in the tropics and its blow to biodiversity and ecosystem services are massive and irreversible. To make matters even worse, carbon emissions from deforestation compound the problem of climate change.
When the U.S. is willing to step forward domestically, it can have a catalyzing impact in other countries. This is evident in the new commitment from China to peak its emissions -- a commitment no one thought was possible just a few short years back. This commitment occurred only after the U.S. showed that it was taking strong domestic action.
It is time to change the conversation. It should be about a race to the future -- a 21st-century, global Marshall Plan that builds the capacity of nations to achieve sustainable prosperity. Before going into this idea further, let's unpack the invalid logic chain that has been implicit in climate negotiations so far.
If the U.S. team negotiating an international climate treaty is looking for guidance, it needn't look far. Over the years, scores of organizations ranging from oil companies to green groups and think tanks have offered their ideas on the principles that should guide an international climate agreement.