STOCKHOLM (AP) — Tempering expectations on a global climate deal in Paris this year, the U.N.'s top climate diplomat on Thursday warned against assuming the pact will suffice to prevent dangerous levels of warming.
As negotiators prepare for a new round of talks in Geneva next week, U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres said the role of the deal is not to fix the problem, but to chart the course for countermeasures that can be scaled up over time.
"It is a fundamental misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the complexity of what we're dealing with to even imagine that an agreement in Paris would in and of itself, at the turn of a dime, miraculously solve climate change," Figueres said.
Countries are supposed to announce well before the Paris summit in December how they plan to contribute to reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases. The European Union, U.S., China and Norway have already done so.
Figueres said it's already clear the combined pledges won't match what scientists say is required to avoid dangerous warming, meaning deeper cuts have to occur in the future.
"What Paris does is to chart the course toward that long-term destination," she told reporters in a webcast briefing.
That includes giving direction for businesses that want to know how greenhouse gas emissions — primarily from the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation — will be regulated as they make investments for the future.
A group of CEOs, including Richard Branson of Virgin Group and Paul Polman of Unilever, on Thursday called for the Paris deal to include a goal to reduce global emissions to "net zero" by 2050, meaning no more than the planet can absorb.
Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred this century as heat-trapping greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere, the U.N. weather agency said earlier this week. This year's agreement would mark the first time that all countries — not just industrialized nations — make commitments to deal with the problem.
Karl Ritter can be reached on Twitter at www.twitter.com/karl_ritter