ments to see whether there is a common sense of urgency about climate control. I made it clear that, to achieve the vision of the Paris Agreement, there would need to be the appropriate quantified targets and the necessary degree of accountability of countries to each other. I also reminded my audience of the need to set the bar higher and go faster than what is currently envisaged,” he said adding how countries should be aware of the assessment by the UN Environment (the leading global environmental authority) that said the existing projections of greenhouse gas reductions would only take the world a third of the way to the temperature targets.
He highlighted that what will make it especially difficult in the process of negotiating targets, in that every country is unique from a topographical, climatic and developmental perspective and has an obligation to its people to secure the best possible deal.
He noted that where there was disagreement there was no single entity that could prescribe authoritatively and unequivocally what each country must do.
“That makes for a very difficult negotiating process. It is likely that the countries with the big carbon footprint will want to phase out the burning of fossil fuels in their own time and, meanwhile, hide behind achievements in electric car and renewable energy development,” he said.
Nevertheless, he noted that some countries, already with heavily polluted air might have to bow to the pressure of an unhealthy and unhappy population and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for that reason. China has just mothballed plans for 150 new coal fired plants.
He stated that if one had to take a guess, one could suggest that the real potency of the COP meetings was the implicit pressure they place on countries to accelerate their embracing of new technology such as renewable energy and replacing petrol with electricity in cars. He warned that the planet's average surface temperature having risen by 1°C over the past 140 years could see acceleration resulting in the planet warming up by between two and five degrees by the end of the century.
“Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. The hottest year on r e c or d was 2016. Unchecked, the planet will warm up by between two and five degrees Celsius by the end of this century. That is extremely worrying and the rate of global warming simply cannot be allowed to continue. Future generations depend on us to take the necessary action to slow the rate of increase, then stop it altogether,” he said.