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U.N. Chief Warns The World About Not Doing Enough To Prevent Climate Disruptions

The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 184 parties, including India, and entered into force in November 2016.

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Climate change, U.S.
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, N.C. VOA

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday said the world was in deep trouble and not doing enough or moving fast enough to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.

“Climate change is running faster than we are, and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late,” he said in his remarks at the official opening of the two-week long UN climate negotiations, known as COP24, that saw governments and delegates from nearly 200 countries in this Polish city.

“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with the climate change. For many, people, regions, and even countries, this is already a matter of life and death.

“This meeting is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed (in 2015),” he said.

He was categorically clear in saying “Our job here in Katowice is to finalise the Paris Agreement Work Programme — the rule book for implementation. I remind all parties that this is a deadline you set for yourselves.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres', climate
UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ press conference with the national and international press to present the results of his visit to Mali and to answer the many questions of journalists.

The rule book will govern national pledges to keep the rise in global temperature to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, and ensuring adequate finances to developing nations.

Climate experts told IANS that the priority outcome at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will be the finalisation of the ‘Paris rule book’, a Bible for transparent implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement — the first global treaty to reduce emissions by all rich and poor nations.

The COP24 negotiations with the participation of more than 20,000 people from nearly 200 countries are going to be held in the backdrop of grim news on climate change from three UN environment bodies.

This meeting is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

“It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation. Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” Guterres said.

Climate change, emissions, Global Warming
U.N. Climate chief Patricia Espinosa (C) is flanked by officials during a press conference at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, VOA

“Nor are we doing enough to capitalize on the enormous social, economic and environmental opportunities of climate action.

“And so, I want to deliver four simple messages.”

First: Science demands a significantly more ambitious response, he said.

Second: The Paris Agreement provides the framework for action, so “we must operationalise it”.

Third: “We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos, to consolidate the financial commitments made in Paris and to assist the most vulnerable communities and nations.”

And fourth: Climate action offers a compelling path to transform our world for the better.

“Let me turn first to science,” he said.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years.

Climate change, carbon
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service shows yellow-cedar trees growing along Sheep Lake east of the Cascade crest in Washington State. Adding and restoring forests is a cheap way to get substantial amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere, a new report says. VOA

The concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest it has been in three million years.

Emissions are now growing again.

The recent special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that warming could reach 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030, with devastating impacts.

“The latest UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report tells us that the current Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement will lead to global warming of about three degrees by the end of the century,” the Secretary-General said.

He said emissions must decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and be net zero by 2050.

Renewable energy will need to supply half to two-thirds of the world’s primary energy by 2050 with a corresponding reduction in fossil fuels.

“We need to embrace low-carbon, climate-resilient sustainable development.”

Climate change, Australia
The coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Georgia. VOA

Ensuring adequate finances to developing nations for sustainable low-emissions, he said: “Some 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 still remains to be built.”

“Governments and investors need to bet on the green economy, not the grey. That means embracing carbon pricing, eliminating harmful fossil fuel subsidies and investing in clean technologies.

“We also have a collective responsibility to assist the most vulnerable communities and countries — such as small island nations and the least developed countries — by supporting adaptation and resilience.

“Making clear progress to mobilise the pledged $100 billion a year will provide a much-needed positive political signal,” the UN Secretary General said.

“I have appointed the President of France and the Prime Minister of Jamaica to lead the mobilisation of the international community, both public and private, to reach that target in the context of preparation of the Climate Summit I have convened in September of next year.”

“I also urge member states to swiftly implement the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. It is an investment in a safer, less costly future,” he added.

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

Poland is hosting a COP for the third time. The two previous COPs were held in Pozna (2008) and in Warsaw (2013). Poland also presided over a COP in Bonn in 1999.

The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 184 parties, including India, and entered into force in November 2016.

The commitments contained in it include the annual $100 billion goal from donor nations for lower-income countries and develop national climate plans by 2020, including their self-determined goals and targets. (IANS)

Next Story

Escalating Consequences of Climate Change Hit Countries Globally

India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally

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Climate
As Climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives. Pixabay

The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally.

The Climate Risk Index 2020, an annual report by Germanwatch, ranks countries according to their vulnerability to extreme weather events.

It was released in the Spanish capital on the sidelines of the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 that is being held in the backdrop of climate impact biting globally.

According to the report, India has also been badly affected, ranking fifth in the overall global vulnerability index in 2018, ranked first in terms of fatalities and second in the world in terms of losses in millions of dollars.

India’s overall ranking has drastically fallen from 14th in 2017, to fifth in 2018.

The report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries.

Japan is the worst-hit country in 2018, while Germany and Canada were both also in the ‘bottom 10’ i.e. the most affected.

The results reflect the increasing damage caused by heatwaves, which scientists have found are being worsened by climate change.

To explain this drastic fall in ranking in a year, David Eckstein, Policy Advisor (Climate Finance and Investment) with Germanwatch said: “India’s high rank is due to severe rainfall, followed by heavy flooding and landslides that killed over 1,000 people.”

The state of Kerala was especially impacted. The floods were described as the worst in the last 100 years.

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A report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries. Pixabay

According to Eckstein, India was struck by two cyclones in October and November 2018 that also nearly killed 1,000 people. Last but not least, India also suffered from extreme heat. While the human death toll was kept considerably low due to public measures, the economic damage was quite severe.

Other countries ranking in the bottom 20 in the overall climate risk categories are the US at 12th, Vietnam at sixth, Bangladesh at seventh and France at 15th.

The report also points to the importance of negotiations at COP25. As climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives.

So far, the industrialised countries have refused to even negotiate it.

But at COP25, for the first time, financial support for climate-related loss and damage is high on the agenda.

For the poorest and most vulnerable countries, this climate summit is, therefore, of the utmost importance. They demand that states agree a deal to support those who are suffering, or at least acknowledge the necessity, with a pathway towards real help.

Otherwise the poorest countries will continue to rely on loans to cope with the consequences of climate change, which means they are threatened with excessive debts, undermining often already vulnerable economies.

In the talks that will last till December 13, India has been ambitious in its actions.

Climate
The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally. Pixabay

It has emphasised that developed countries should take the 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).

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India is also stressing 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, who is attending the summit from December 9. (IANS)