Recent developments in climate policy have done little to suggest that the world is acting quickly enough to avoid a dangerous rise in global temperatures. Despite some important steps in national policy-making—including the commencement of Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism and the piloting of subnational emissions trading in China—the polarized nature of the climate debate in the United States continues to obstruct progress. Moreover, a substantial gap remains between the current policies of various countries and the level of mitigation needed to stay within the internationally agreed limit of a 2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature. To some observers, the United Nations climate change conference in Durban in 2011 offered hope for a long-term agreement that would be more inclusive than the Kyoto Protocol by securing the participation of major developing countries, such as India and China (which do not having binding mitigation commitments under the protocol), as well as developed countries, such as the United States (which failed to ratify the protocol). Yet, as it becomes increasingly clear that global emissions will need to peak within the next few years if we are to stem global warming, a dramatic change in short-term policies is also required.
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