UN talks to im­ple­ment Paris cli­mate pact open

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

UN talks to im­ple­ment the land­mark Paris cli­mate pact opened in Mar­rakesh yes­ter­day, buoyed by gath­er­ing mo­men­tum but threat­ened by the specter of cli­mate change de­nier Don­ald Trump in the White House. Di­plo­mats from 196 na­tions will flesh out the planet-sav­ing plan inked in the French cap­i­tal last De­cem­ber.

“We have made pos­si­ble what ev­ery­one said was im­pos­si­ble,” said French en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Se­go­lene Royal at the open­ing cer­e­mony, in which she handed over stew­ard­ship of the cli­mate fo­rum to Moroc­can for­eign min­is­ter Sala­hed­dine Me­zouar. Royal an­nounced that 100 coun­tries have rat­i­fied the Paris Agree­ment, which en­tered into force last Fri­day, a record time for an in­ter­na­tional treaty. Amid grow­ing alarm at the gath­er­ing pace of cli­mate change and its im­pacts-ris­ing sea, deadly storms, drought and wild­fires-the world’s na­tions have moved quickly over the last year to tackle the still-grow­ing prob­lem. But as 15,000 ne­go­tia­tors, CEOs and ac­tivists set­tle in for the 12-day talks, all eyes are on the United States, where vot­ing Tues­day could thrust Trump into the White House.

When it comes to global warm­ing, the stakes could hardly be higher, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has warned. “All the progress we’ve made on cli­mate change”-in­clud­ing the Paris pact, decades in the mak­ing-”is go­ing to be on the bal­lot,” he told TV talk show host Bill Ma­her on Fri­day.

The Repub­li­can can­di­date can­not carry out his threat to “can­cel” the still-frag­ile ac­cord, but a Trump vic­tory could crip­ple it, ex­perts here agree. Demo­cratic op­po­nent Hillary Clin­ton has vowed to up­hold Obama’s do­mes­tic en­ergy poli­cies and in­ter­na­tional cli­mate com­mit­ments. In Mar­rakesh, front-line di­plo­mats must roll up their sleeves and work through scores of pro­ce­dural is­sues that will make the dif­fer­ence be­tween suc­cess and fail­ure. They have in­for­mally set 2018 as the dead­line for lay­ing that ground­work, Royal told jour­nal­ists the day be­fore the talks opened.

Philip­pines to rat­ify cli­mate pact: Duterte

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte said yes­ter­day that the Philip­pines will rat­ify a global pact aimed at tam­ing cli­mate change, , re­vers­ing his op­po­si­tion to the his­toric United Na­tions agree­ment he pre­vi­ously dubbed “crazy”. In an­nounc­ing the de­ci­sion to sign up to the Paris Agree­ment, Duterte said he still had mis­giv­ings but his cab­i­net mem­bers over­whelm­ingly dis­agreed with him.

“Af­ter so much de­bate, the cli­mate change (agree­ment), I will sign it be­cause it was a unan­i­mous vote ex­cept for one or two (in cab­i­net),” Duterte told re­porters. The Philip­pines last year signed up with the rest of the world to the pact, which aims to cap global warm­ing at well be­low two de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 de­grees Fahren­heit), and 1.5 Cel­sius if pos­si­ble, com­pared with prein­dus­trial lev­els.

How­ever shortly af­ter tak­ing of­fice on June 30, Duterte crit­i­cized the com­mit­ments made by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of his pre­de­ces­sor Benigno Aquino. Those com­mit­ments were to cut emis­sions of the green­house gases blamed for global warm­ing by 70 per­cent by 2030 from 2000 lev­els, on con­di­tion it got sup­port from de­vel­oped na­tions to con­vert to clean tech­nolo­gies.

When he railed in July against the Philip­pines’ com­mit­ments, Duterte said the agree­ment would stop de­vel­op­ing coun­tries from in­dus­tri­al­iz­ing by burn­ing fos­sil fu­els-as rich na­tions had done. “There is no treaty to honor. We have not signed the treaty,” Duterte said then. “If you will not al­low us to reach par­ity, you are al­ready there and we are still here, then I’m say­ing that’s crazy. I will not agree to that.”

How­ever the Paris Agree­ment does in­deed al­low for de­vel­op­ing na­tions to con­tinue to burn fos­sil fu­els. Duterte’s cab­i­net mem­bers, some other law­mak­ers and one of his most im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal al­lies, ex-pres­i­dent Fidel Ramos, said fol­low­ing those com­ments that they would try to ed­u­cate the pres­i­dent about the Philip­pines’ cli­mate fu­ture.

Com­mit­ting to the pact is a two-step process. The first oc­curred with the ini­tial pledges and agree­ment in Paris last year. The sec­ond is a for­mal rat­i­fi­ca­tion. The pact went into force last week af­ter 55 par­ties to the UN’s cli­mate con­ven­tion (UNFCCC), re­spon­si­ble for at least 55 per­cent of global green­house gas emis­sions, rat­i­fied it. In lit­tle over four months in of­fice, Duterte has cre­ated an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for in­cen­di­ary rhetoric that is not nec­es­sar­ily backed up by ac­tion. He has re­peat­edly threat­ened to tear up the Philip­pines’ long-stand­ing al­liance with the United States and eject Amer­i­can forces from his coun­try, although this has not hap­pened.

MAR­RAKESH: COP22 pres­i­dent Sala­hed­dine Me­zouar at­tends the open­ing ses­sion of the COP22 cli­mate talks. — AFP

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