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Optimism as UN climate talks commence

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UN talks in Peru best chance in a generation to tackle climate change say campaigners

Global climate talks opening today (Monday) in Lima have the potential to reshape the impact of climate change more than ever before, according to a leading Scots campaigner.

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, is in the Peruvian capital for the start of the UN climate talks and believes Scotland’s record on tackling climate change was a “powerful story” to influence other countries.

One hundred and ninety-five nations have committed to finalising a new climate pact in Paris by the end of 2015.

The process has been boosted by recent developments, including a joint announcement on cutting carbon by the US and China.

Two weeks of discussions start amid record-breaking global temperatures for the year to date.

Banks said: "We're starting these talks from a more positive place than in previous years, with emissions reductions pledges and financial commitments from the US, China and the EU demonstrating that the political momentum on climate change is building.

“But there is work to be done, and it's no longer an option to wait."

He added: "Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate targets in the world, and a powerful climate action story to tell on the international stage.

In Scotland, as in Lima, ambition must be matched with action - Lang Banks

“Our example brings a welcome injection of ambition to the talks, but in Scotland as in Lima this ambition must be matched with action.

“For instance, the Scottish budget going through Parliament at the moment must be aligned to secure the social, economic and environmental benefits of emissions reductions, higher energy efficiency and a renewable-led energy system.

“Similarly, before the assembled nations leave Lima and continue on the road to concluding the global agreement in Paris, we must see commitments as well as ambition."

By the end of March next year, all countries are expected to announce the level of their efforts to cut carbon as part of the Paris deal.

But, as yet, there is no agreement on what should be included or excluded from these “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDC) statements.

Tasneem Essop, WWF's head of delegation to the UN framework convention on climate change, added: "We are meeting on a continent of developing countries that have already experienced devastating impacts of climate change through floods, glacier melts and extreme weather events.

“It is also a continent where we have witnessed strong actions to address climate change.

“This should spur all countries to be prepared to set aside their own national interests and act in the interests of the planet."

However many countries, including the US, have signalled that they will be unable to enter a legally binding deal on emissions cuts.



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