UN cli­mate chief: No doubt of shift to low emis­sions ‘Wealthy coun­tries live as if there were three plan­ets’

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -


Cli­mate ne­go­tia­tors started work Mon­day on im­ple­ment­ing the Paris Agree­ment on global warm­ing amid un­cer­tainty over how the US elec­tion will im­pact the land­mark deal as tem­per­a­tures and green­house gases soar to new heights. UN cli­mate chief Pa­tri­cia Espinosa told del­e­gates in the rain-soaked Moroc­can city of Marrakech that “no politi­cian or cit­i­zen, no busi­ness man­ager or in­vestor” can doubt that the world is de­ter­mined to shift to­ward a “low-emis­sion, re­silient so­ci­ety.” So far, 100 coun­tries have for­mally joined the agree­ment adopted last year in Paris, in­clud­ing top pol­luters China, the United States, the Eu­ro­pean Union and In­dia.

How­ever, US Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump has said he would “can­cel” the deal if he wins the elec­tion this week. His op­po­nent, Hil­lary Clin­ton, backs the cli­mate poli­cies of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s gov­ern­ment. The up­com­ing elec­tion seemed to be on ev­ery­one’s mind at the start of the two-week con­fer­ence in Marrakech, where even security guards at the sprawl­ing con­fer­ence cen­ter were over­heard dis­cussing the po­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions for the world and ef­forts to fight cli­mate change in par­tic­u­lar.

“Trump be­com­ing Pres­i­dent? I per­son­ally don’t have prob­lem with it. But what does the guy want to do?” said Adjo Bokon, a del­e­gate from the West African na­tion of Togo. “Is he con­scious of what is go­ing on with cli­mate change?” Gabriela Fis­cherova, a Slo­vak of­fi­cial rep­re­sent­ing the Eu­ro­pean Union, said the 28na­tion bloc is “open to any re­sult. We will con­tinue our dis­cus­sions with any ad­min­is­tra­tion that will be in place.”

The Paris Agree­ment marks the first time all coun­tries have pledged to fight global warm­ing by curb­ing the rise in green­house gas emis­sions, pri­mar­ily car­bon diox­ide from fos­sil fu­els. The UN says global emis­sions rise ev­ery year, reach­ing 52.7 bil­lion tons in 2014, pri­mar­ily driven by the rapid ex­pan­sion of China, In­dia and other Asian economies.

First world to blame

Mean­while, global av­er­age tem­per­a­tures keep hit­ting new records. Last year was the hottest since re­li­able record-keep­ing be­gan in the 19th cen­tury and this year is ex­pected to be even hot­ter. On a per-capita ba­sis, rich coun­tries like the United States, Aus­tralia and oil-rich Gulf na­tions, have the high­est emis­sions. “The wealth­i­est coun­tries live as if there were three plan­ets,” said French En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Se­go­lene Royal. Mean­while, poor coun­tries in Africa who have con­trib­uted very lit­tle to the prob­lem are suf­fer­ing the con­se­quences with fer­tile land turn­ing into desert, she said.

Del­e­gates will meet for two weeks in the Moroc­can city to work on the rules for im­ple­ment­ing the Paris deal, in­clud­ing how to mea­sure and re­port emis­sions so that coun­tries can be held ac­count­able.

The goal of the agree­ment is to keep the global tem­per­a­ture rise be­low 2 de­grees Cel­sius com­pared with pre-in­dus­trial times, and “pur­sue ef­forts” to try to hold it to 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius.

The lower thresh­old was in­tro­duced on de­mand from vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries such as low­ly­ing is­land na­tions who fear they will be washed away by ris­ing seas as global warm­ing melts glaciers and ice sheets. Tem­per­a­tures have al­ready risen about 1 de­gree C since the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion and analy­ses of the emis­sions cuts that coun­tries have pledged so far show they put the world on a path to about 3 de­grees C of warm­ing.

“De­ci­sions made in the next few years will largely de­ter­mine if we’re able to achieve the 1.5 C warm­ing thresh­old agreed in Paris,” said Manuel Pul­gar-Vi­dal, Peru’s former en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter who now leads en­vi­ron­men­tal group WWF In­ter­na­tional’s work on cli­mate change. “Or if we take the unthinkable op­tion of blow­ing right past it.” — AP

MARRAKESH: A mem­ber of Moroc­can security stands guard next to flags of par­tic­i­pat­ing UN mem­ber states, on the en­trance to the COP22 vil­lage, a day ahead of the open­ing cer­e­mony. — AP

GRAND-LAHOU, Ivory Coast: Work­ers pre­pare the sup­port struc­tures of a new cabin away from the shore­line, in re­sponse to ris­ing sea tides in Grand Lahou on No­vem­ber 3, 2016, fol­low­ing flood­ing through­out half of the city. — AFP

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