UN official: On track to reach 2015 global climate treaty

Countries are on track to reach an agreement on climate change standards by the 2015 talks in Paris, the head of climate efforts for the United Nations said.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in an interview with New Scientist that negotiations are on a "straight path toward an agreement" come December of 2015.

"In May 2015 the draft agreement needs to go out to every government. This is not a small contract. This really is the basis for a global transformation the likes of which the world has never seen," Figueres said. 

"But at the same time we have to keep our focus on 2014 as the year when most of the work needs to be done, and when we build people's confidence that we can move to a low-carbon economy."

While the failures of the climate talks of 2009 in Copenhagen linger, Figureres is optimistic this time around a treaty will be formed.

"I think the fundamental problem we had in Copenhagen was a lack of confidence in one another's ability to do anything. That has changed," Figueres said.

"Now more than 60 countries have climate legislation. We have a total of 500 climate laws that cover about 90 percent of emissions. There is a sense of "yes, we want to do this," and perhaps more importantly, "yes, we can do this," she said.

The U.S. State Department has launched a climate blitz of its own as Secretary of State John Kerry has vowed to put climate change at the forefront of all diplomatic talks.

Countries hope to reach an agreement that would include national commitments to cut emissions by 2020.

The complete interview is available here.