‘Catas­tro­phe’ warn­ings as cli­mate talks en­ter fi­nal stretch

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

PARIS: Large swathes of New York and Shang­hai could dis­ap­pear un­der the waves and mil­lions driven into poverty, fresh cli­mate re­ports warned as min­is­ters scram­bled yes­ter­day for com­mon ground weeks ahead of a crunch en­vi­ron­men­tal sum­mit. If global warm­ing con­tin­ues on its present tra­jec­tory of 4 C (7.2 F), ris­ing sea lev­els will claim land in­hab­ited by more than 600 mil­lion peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by Cli­mate Cen­tral, a US-based re­search group. Such a rise would hit China the hard­est, with around 145 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in coastal ar­eas that would be sub­merged, the re­port warned. Even if the Paris sum­mit, which starts on Novem­ber 30, suc­ceeds in its goal of lim­it­ing tem­per­a­ture rises to 2 C, around 280 mil­lion peo­ple would find their homes un­der­wa­ter, fore­cast Cli­mate Cen­tral.

A sep­a­rate World Bank study re­leased late Sun­day said there could be “more than 100 mil­lion ad­di­tional peo­ple in poverty by 2030” if ac­tion was not taken to stem cli­mate change. “The poor are more vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate-re­lated shocks than wealth­ier peo­ple,” said the re­port, urg­ing “strong ac­tion” from lead­ers and diplo­mats at the Paris sum­mit. French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius, who is host­ing the meet­ing, is­sued his own dire warn­ings as min­is­ters gath­ered in the French cap­i­tal for eleven­th­hour ne­go­ti­a­tions. “It is life on our planet it­self which is at stake,” Fabius told jour­nal­ists as min­is­ters and cli­mate en­voys from 70 coun­tries met for pre-sum­mit talks to iron out tough po­lit­i­cal ques­tions. With the key UN con­fer­ence just three weeks away, Fabius also an­nounced Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin would at­tend the Novem­ber 30 open­ing. Rus­sia, a ma­jor oil pro­ducer, is seen as a deal-maker or -breaker in the years-long at­tempt to ne­go­ti­ate the world’s first truly uni­ver­sal pact to curb cli­mate-al­ter­ing green­house gas emis­sions. “There is ab­so­lute ur­gency,” said Fabius, to achieve the UN goal of lim­it­ing global warm­ing to two de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 de­grees Fahren­heit) over pre-In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion lev­els. The UN’s cli­mate sci­ence panel has warned of an av­er­age tem­per­a­ture rise of “four, five, six de­grees, if we do not act ex­tremely quickly,” he said. “This would have cat­a­strophic con­se­quences be­cause there would be drought... and colos­sal mi­gra­tion prob­lems, in­clud­ing prob­lems of war and peace.”

Pre-COP Min­is­ters are aim­ing to ink a global deal to pre­vent worst-case-sce­nario warm­ing at the end of the Novem­ber 30-De­cem­ber 11 Con­fer­ence of Par­ties (COP21) in Paris. It will be opened by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and some 100 heads of state and gov­ern­ment in­clud­ing US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, China’s Xi Jin­ping, Naren­dra Modi of In­dia-and now also Putin. The three-day min­is­te­rial “pre-COP” from Sun­day to Tues­day must seek po­lit­i­cal con­ver­gence on key is­sues still di­vid­ing na­tions, to avoid a re­peat of the 2009 Copenhagen sum­mit which ended with­out a bind­ing global pact. The Paris agree­ment will be un­der­pinned by na­tional pledges to curb green­house gas emis­sions from burn­ing coal, oil and gas-the best way to slow cli­mate change. But the UN this week is­sued a fresh warn­ing that pledges sub­mit­ted to date set the stage for warm­ing of closer to 3 C, or more. —AFP

PARIS, France : French For­eign min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius (cen­ter) shakes hands with Saudi Ara­bia’s Oil Min­is­ter Ali Al-Naimi (right) dur­ing a meet­ing, in Paris, ahead of the 21st Ses­sion of the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (COP21/CMP11), also known as “Paris 2015” from Novem­ber 30 to De­cem­ber 11. — AFP

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