Gulf News

Climate deal offers chance to save world



To rousing cheers and tears of relief, envoys from 195 nations yesterday approved an accord to stop global warming, offering hope that humanity can avert catastroph­ic climate change and usher in an energy revolution.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ended nearly a fortnight of gruelling UN negotiatio­ns in Paris with the bang of a gavel, marking consensus among the ministers, who stood for several minutes to clap and shout their joy.

“I see the room, I see the reaction is positive, I hear no objection. The Paris climate accord is adopted,” Fabius declared.

Turning to a little green hammer with which he formally gave life to the arduously crafted pact, he quipped: “It may be a small gavel but it can do big things.”

The deal, to take effect from 2020, ends decades-long rows between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion-dollar effort to cap global warming and deal with consequenc­es occurring.

With 2015 forecast to be the hottest year on record, world leaders and scientists had said the accord was vital for capping rising temperatur­es and averting the most calamitous impacts from climate change.

Without urgent action, they warned of increasing­ly severe droughts, floods and storms, as well as rising seas that would engulf islands and coastal areas populated by hundreds of millions of people.

The crux of the fight to limit global warming requires cutting back or eliminatin­g the use of coal, oil and gas for energy, which has largely powered prosperity since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1700s.

The burning of those fossil fuels releases invisible greenhouse gases, which cause the planet to warm and change Earth’s delicate climate system.

There’s a lot of money in climate financing. Six years ago, rich nations pledged that by 2020 they would provide $100 billion (Dh367.3 billion) a year in aid, loans and private money to help poorer nations cope with climate change and wean themselves off fossil fuels. This week in Paris, they’re pledging even more, and discussing whether developing nations like China need to pony up, too.

But what exactly are they paying for? In the wild west of climate finance, the funding includes things like a “love movie festival,” research on elephant sounds and even new coal plants.

When it comes to climate money, expert after expert says, don’t believe most figures.

No one is saying money is being misspent, but they are saying it is being misreporte­d, making it sound bigger than it really is.

“Developed countries inflate the figure; they count everything they can find,” said Romain Weikmans, a researcher at Brown University’s Climate and Developmen­t Lab. “It’s really a process of lying the more you can.”

University of Zurich’s Axel Michaelowa, who studies climate aid grants, found “there was a huge misreprese­ntation. Government­s were actually really not able to report properly” on aid that was supposed to help countries reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

His study, conducted on specific climate grants four years ago, showed a list of “projects without any conceivabl­e climate change connotatio­n.”

For their website Adaptation Watch, Weikmans and Brown University environmen­tal studies professor Timmons Roberts studied 5,201 projects mentioned by developed nations and found that 3,444 of them “did not explicitly link project activities to addressing climate vulnerabil­ity,” Weikmans said.

“Climate finance accounting is the wild west,” Roberts said.

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