World is ‘way off course on cli­mate’

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE -

THE world is “way off course” in its plan to pre­vent cat­a­strophic cli­mate change, the UN warned on Mon­day as na­tions gath­ered in Poland to chart a way for mankind to avert run­away global warm­ing.

Af­ter a string of damn­ing sci­en­tific re­ports show­ing hu­man­ity must dras­ti­cally slash its green­house gas emis­sions within the next decade, UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res told del­e­gates at the open­ing of a UN cli­mate sum­mit: “We are still not do­ing enough, nor mov­ing fast enough.”

Mon­day was to see lead­ers from at-risk na­tions such as Fiji, Nige­ria and Nepal plead their case at the COP24 cli­mate talks, which aim to flesh out the prom­ises agreed in the 2015 Paris cli­mate ac­cord.

But host Poland – heav­ily reliant on en­ergy from coal – will push its own agenda: a “just tran­si­tion” from fos­sil fu­els that crit­ics say could al­low it to con­tinue pol­lut­ing for decades.

Nor are any of the world’s largest emit­ters rep­re­sented at the high­est level in Poland.

The Paris agree­ment saw na­tions agree to limit global tem­per­a­ture rises to be­low two de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 Fahren­heit) and un­der 1.5C if pos­si­ble.

Of­fi­cials from nearly 200 coun­tries now have two weeks to fi­nalise how those goals work in prac­tice, even as sci­ence sug­gests the pace of cli­mate change is rapidly outst r i pping mankind’s re­sponse.

One of the key dis­putes is fi­nance.

Un­der Paris, richer na­tions – re­spon­si­ble for the ma­jor­ity of his­toric green­house gas emis­sions – are ex­pected to con­trib­ute f und­ing t hat

de­vel­op­ing na­tions can ac­cess to make their economies greener.

But US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to with­draw from the Paris ac­cord has dented trust among vul­ner­a­ble na­tions, who fear there is not enough cash avail­able to help them adapt to our heat­ing planet.

The World Bank on Mon­day an­nounced $200 bil­lion in cli­mate ac­tion in­vest­ment for 2021-25 – a ma­jor shot in the arm for green ini­tia­tives but one which needs bol­ster­ing by statepro­vided fund­ing.

The back­ground to Mon­day’s sum­mit could hardly have been bleaker – with just one Cel­sius of warm­ing so far, Earth is bom­barded with rag­ing wild­fires, wide­spread crop fail­ures and su­per-storms ex­ac­er­bated by ris­ing sea lev­els.

“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.

The UN’s own ex­pert cli­mate panel in Oc­to­ber is­sued its stark­est warn­ing to date. To have any hope of reach­ing the 1.5C goal by the end of the cen­tury, it said fos­sil fuel emis­sions must be halved by 2030.

Poland is one of many na­tions heav­ily reliant on coal and wants this round of talks to re­flect the role fos­sil fu­els play in its econ­omy.

It was to on Mon­day un­veil a dec­la­ra­tion calling on states to “recog­nise the chal­lenges faced by sec­tors, cities and re­gions in tran­si­tion from fos­sil fu­els . . . and the im­por­tance to en­sure a de­cent fu­ture for work­ers im­pacted by the tran­si­tion.”

‘Dirty de­vel­op­ment path’

Mo­hamed Adow, cli­mate lead for the Chris­tian Aid char­ity, said richer na­tions needed to stump up the cash to al­low de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to make the leap to re­new­ables.

“Trudg­ing along the dirty de­vel­op­ment path trod by rich- er coun­tries will see de­vel­op­ing na­tions stuck in the past and pol­lute their en­vi­ron­ments while ru­in­ing ef­forts to limit global warm­ing,” he said.

For some na­tions, the time to adapt to the ef­fects of cli­mate change is al­ready here.

Frank Bain­i­marama, prime min­is­ter of Fiji and pres­i­dent of last year’s COP, said de­vel­oped na­tions must act now to save the planet.

“Or, God for­bid, [we] ig­nore the ir­refutable ev­i­dence and be­come the gen­er­a­tion that be­trayed hu­man­ity,” he said.

Guter­res called on richer na­tions to in­crease their fund­ing for the cli­mate fight.

He said de­vel­oped states had 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.”

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