Friday December 6, 2019
Home Lead Story U.N. Chief Re...

U.N. Chief Returns To Climate Talks To Hopefully Reach a Deal With Countries

One issue that has risen to the fore at the talks is the proposal by Poland for countries to back the idea of a "just transition" for workers in fossil fuel industries

0
//
U.N. Climate Conference
In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo a participant in U.N. climate conference walks by a photo of a satellite in Katowice, Poland. VOA

The United Nations secretary-general flew back to global climate talks in Poland Wednesday to appeal to countries to reach an agreement, as some observers feared the meeting might end without a deal.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres opened the talks last week, telling leaders to take the threat of global warming seriously and calling it “the most important issue we face.”

But as the two-week meeting shifted from the technical to political phase, with ministers taking over negotiations, campaign groups warned of the risks of failure in Katowice.

Harjeet Singh of ActionAid International said the main holdouts were the United States, Australia and Japan, while the European Union was “a mere spectator.”

U.N., Climate
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

“A new leadership must step up,” said Vanessa Perez-Cirera of the environmental group WWF. “We cannot afford to lose one of the twelve years we have remaining.”

She was referring to a recent scientific report by a U.N.-backed panel that suggested average global warming can only be halted at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) if urgent action is taken by 2030, including a dramatic reduction in use of fossil fuels.

Endorsing the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change became a crunch issue over the weekend, with the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait opposing the move.

Jean-Pascal Ypersele, a former deputy chair of the panel, said whether or not countries believe the conclusions of the report was irrelevant because the science was clear.

Fossil Fuels, Climate
Youth and indigenous groups protest against fossil fuels during US-hosted event at the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 10, 2018, as the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the city. VOA

“Nobody, even the so-called superpowers, can negotiate with the laws of physics,” he said.

Ypersele called for the 1.5-degree target — already mentioned in the 2015 Paris accord — to be recognized in the final text.

“It’s a question of survival for a large part of humanity, and many other species,” he said.

Poland, which is chairing the talks, was expected to circulate a condensed draft text Wednesday running to about 100 pages, down from about 300 at the start of the talks.

The Dec. 2-14 meeting is supposed to finalize the rules that signatories of the Paris accord need to follow when it comes to reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to reduce them.

Li Shuo, a climate expert at Greenpeace, warned that the current text was riddled with loopholes. “A Swiss cheese rulebook is unacceptable,” he said.

Pollution, Climate
Clouds of smoke over Europe’s largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland, on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA

Poor countries also want assurances on financial support to tackle climate change.

A third objective of the talks is getting governments to make a firm commit to raising ambitions in the coming two years, albeit without any precise figures.

One issue that has risen to the fore at the talks is the proposal by Poland for countries to back the idea of a “just transition” for workers in fossil fuel industries facing closure from emissions-curbing measures.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, told reporters that her country is committed to phasing out the use of coal, though the exact deadline has yet to be determined.

But in a nod to the recent protests in France over fuel prices, Schulze warned against governments forcing through measures, saying they would lose public support “faster than you can spell climate protection, and then people pull on yellow vests.” (VOA)

Next Story

UN Climate Summit to Take Place in Madrid

UN climate talks to kick off in Madrid on Monday

0
UN
The UN climate talks will be taking place in Madrid. Pixabay

BY VISHAL GULATI

As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, diplomats and officials from nearly 200 countries, including India, will gather in the Spanish capital Madrid for two weeks from Monday for the UN climate summit to thrash out how best to tackle the climate crisis.

The 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 is being held in the backdrop of climate impacts biting globally, believe climate experts.

Fires are consuming forests from the Amazon to Indonesia and from Congo to Australia. Floods have just hit Britain and Venice. Heatwaves, super-charged hurricanes and torrential downpours are now commonplace.

In the run-up to the annual summit, three stark reports on the rising carbon emissions and impacts on global temperatures have been released.

UN greenhouse gases
The UN climate summit will discuss ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lifetime Stock

The reports lay bare the horrific state of climate breakdown and its impacts across the globe whilst indicating the solutions are available to make possible meeting the goals set out under the Paris Agreement of 2015.

The COP25 will take place under the Presidency of the government of Chile and will be held with logistical support from the government of Spain.

“This year, we have seen accelerating climate change impacts, including increased droughts, storms and heat waves, with dire consequences for poverty eradication, human health, migration and inequality,” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said.

“The world’s small window of opportunity to address climate change is closing rapidly. We must urgently deploy all the tools of multilateral cooperation to make COP25 the launchpad for more climate ambition to put the world on a transformational path towards low carbon and resilience,” she said.

According to the UN Climate Change, a key objective of COP25 is to raise overall ambition also by completing several key aspects with respect to the full operationalisation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Last year at COP24 in Poland, the bulk of the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement were agreed on, with the exception of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

UN summit
The UN climate talk will discuss ways to tackle climate crisis. Wikimedia Commons

Article 6 is to provide guidelines for how international climate markets will work, as a key component of the world’s economic toolbox for addressing climate change.

The other focus areas at COP25 will include adaptation, loss and damage, transparency, finance, capacity-building, indigenous issues, oceans, forestry, gender and more.

The provision of finance and technology is crucial for developing countries to green their economies and build resilience.

“While we have seen some progress with respect to climate-related financing for developing countries, we will continue to urge developed nations to fulfil their pledge of mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020,” Espinosa said in a statement.

What’s at stake at COP25?

At a time when the discrepancies between what governments need to do according to science, and what they are actually doing, are getting unprecedented global attention,

“Madrid is the moment when the race for governments to submit new climate plans starts,” a climate negotiator told IANS.

The Madrid talks are due in 2020, and under the Paris deal, they need to be better than previous ones.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the vulnerable states are expected to make this clear at COP25.

The heat of mobilisations on the streets is expected to be felt inside the venue and the host of the 2020 COP, Britain, is expected to outline its plan to raise global ambition.

India will look to engage in negotiations with a constructive and positive outlook and work towards protecting its long-term development interests.

India has been ambitious in its actions and has emphasised that developed countries should take lead in undertaking ambitious actions and fulfil their climate finance commitments of mobilising $100 billion per annum by 2020 and progressively and substantially scale up their financial support to inform parties for future action through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

UN climate change
This UN climate summit must generate momentum and pressure on big polluters. Wikimedia Commons

India will further stress upon the need for fulfilling the pre-2020 commitments by developed countries, and that pre-2020 implementation gaps should not present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.

The Indian delegation will be led by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

The COP25 is an important as countries prepare to move from pre-2020 period under Kyoto Protocol to post-2020 period under the Paris Agreement.

In 2020, nations are to submit new or updated national climate action plans, referred to as NDCs.

According to the UN Environment Programme’s 2019 Emission Gap Report published last week, unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

This means collective ambition would need to increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal.

This climate summit must generate momentum and pressure on big polluters.

Climate experts told IANS that major emitters need to heed the call for action at Madrid’s closing, and leave Spain feeling on notice to deliver leading commitments in 2020.

If the EU, China and India feel the heat, that will inject some pace into global climate efforts.

Also Read- More than Half of European Women Diagnosed at a Late Stage of HIV Infection: WHO

Antonio Guterres is expected to be in Madrid to reinforce his call for countries to stop feeding their coal addiction, demand plans for carbon neutrality by 2050 and call for an end to the trillions spent supporting the fossil fuel sector.

The EU may announce its 2050 net zero plan, while 100 or more countries could commit to carbon neutrality by midcentury. (IANS)