At the initiative of the European Union and the most vulnerable developing nations, the Durban climate conference in December 2011 launched negotiations to develop a new international climate change agreement that covers all countries. The agreement will take the form of a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all Parties. It will be adopted in 2015 and implemented from 2020.
The agreement is being negotiated through a process known as the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
In March 2013 the European Commission published a Consultative Communication which launches a public debate on how best to design the 2015 agreement. The paper raises a number of key questions and invites the views of stakeholders, Member States and EU institutions.
The public consultation coincides with an expected intensification of the international negotiations this year. The online consultation runs until 26 June and includes a stakeholder conference on 17 April in Brussels. The Commission will analyse responses to the consultation and these will feed into the development of the EU's negotiating position.
The 2015 agreement will have to bring together the current patchwork of binding and non-binding arrangements under the UN climate convention into a single comprehensive regime.
Whereas the EU, a few other European countries and Australia have joined a legally binding second period of the Kyoto Protocol which runs until 2020, some 60 other countries around the world have made different types of non-binding commitments to reduce, or limit the growth in, their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
In seeking responses from stakeholders, the Communication points to a number of key elements of the agreement, which should:
The Consultative Communication makes clear that global action taken before 2020 will be crucial to setting policies on the right path for the agreement to succeed.