THE BLOG

David Cameron Has to Catch Up With Germany and France on Climate Change

21/10/2015 10:23 BST | Updated 20/10/2016 10:12 BST

It is only 50 days until what might be the most important climate conference, the COP 21 in Paris. This week in Bonn diplomats from all over the world come together to set the course for a global climate deal in the French capital. Rarely chances have been that good for a global climate treaty - at the same time the situation is very risky and the UK could play a key role.

The USA and China have finally overcome their role as blockers of climate negotiations. China alone will reduce up to an amount that equals the total yearly emissions of the UK. Renewables have developed much faster over the past years than anyone expected and for the first time in history more than 150 countries announced official goals to protect the climate in the forefront of a climate conference.

Nonetheless, as negotiators prepare the text for a climate treaty in Bonn this week there is a lot at stake and risk. To enter the phase of actual elaborating a draft treaty is particularly sensitive.

According to Martin Kaiser from Greenpeace "there is a big risk at the moment that those countries who built their economic models on the exploitation of coal and oil are trying to undermine the process in order to get no or a very weak outcome in Paris."

Many observers like Greenpeace expect a more active role from the UK and other European nations at this critical point. "The UK has not been very visible. The decisions most recently on the national level against environmental legislation are quite disappointing. So it needs to be seen if David Cameron together with other European leaders becomes really a driver for that agreement. We have not seen that yet.", Martin Kaiser says.

While Germany and France show leadership in the climate talks, the UK lags behind. As president of G7 chancellor Merkel managed that big and important industrialized countries agree on the decarburization of their economy - a symbolic, but nonetheless a big step.

As the incoming president of the climate conference in Paris France has played a very active role n this years climate talks as well. President François Holland and the minister of foreign affairs Laurent Fabius have put together a strong diplomatic team to prepare the COP in Paris. Throughout the year France has been pushing climate talks on presidential and ministerial levels and substantial progress has been made - but that did not translate into the actual draft for climate treaty.

However, a lot of decisions on the ministerial level are not reflected in the draft text of the climate treaty yet. For example, the heads of states including Merkel, Cameron and Hollande, the president of China and US secretary of state John Kerry agreed to move towards 100 % renewables. However, just as the UK lags behind France and Germany, the UN climate talks lag behind the realities outside the negotiations. David Cameron should close both gaps by becoming a visible and active actor in international climate politics. The UK has the potential to be one of the essential players for a historic climate treaty - this should not be missed.