Climate talks kick off in Poland with boost from G-20 sum­mit

Rome News-Tribune - - NEWS - By Frank Jor­dans

KA­TOW­ICE, Poland — Ne­go­tia­tors from around the world be­gan two weeks of talks on curb­ing climate change Sun­day, three years af­ter seal­ing a land­mark deal in Paris that set a goal of keep­ing global warm­ing well be­low 2 de­grees Cel­sius.

En­voys from al­most 200 na­tions gath­ered in Poland’s south­ern city of Ka­tow­ice, a day ear­lier than orig­i­nally planned be­cause of the large num­ber of is­sues that need to be re­solved by Dec. 14.

“We are here to en­able the world to act to­gether on climate change,” said Poland’s en­vi­ron­men­tal en­voy, Michal Kur­tyka, who is pre­sid­ing over the U.N. meet­ing, known as COP24.

With fur­ther meet­ings next year meant to build on what’s de­cided in Ka­tow­ice, he urged all coun­tries to “show cre­ativ­ity and flex­i­bil­ity.”

“The United Na­tions sec­re­tary-gen­eral is count­ing on us, all of us to de­liver,” Kur­tyka said. “There is no Plan B.”

Min­is­ters and some heads of gov­ern­ment plan to join the dis­cus­sion Mon­day, when host Poland is ex­pected to push for a dec­la­ra­tion en­sur­ing a “just tran­si­tion” for fos­sil fuel in­dus­tries that face cuts and clo­sures amid ef­forts to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

The meet­ing re­ceived a boost over the week­end when 19 ma­jor economies at the G-20 sum­mit af­firmed their com­mit­ment to the 2015 Paris climate ac­cord. The only hold­out was the United States, which an­nounced un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump that it is with­draw­ing from the climate pact.

“De­spite geopo­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, the climate con­sen­sus is prov­ing highly re­silient,” said Chris­tiana Figueres, a for­mer head of the U.N. climate of­fice.

“It is sad that the fed­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion of the United States, a coun­try that is in­creas­ingly feel­ing the full force of climate im­pacts, con­tin­ues to refuse to lis­ten to the ob­jec­tive voice of sci­ence when it comes to climate change,” Fig­ures said.

She cited a re­cent ex­pert re­port warn­ing of the con­se­quences of let­ting av­er­age global tem­per­a­tures rise be­yond 2.7 de­grees F.

“The rest of the G-20 have not only un­der­stood the sci­ence, they are tak­ing ac­tions to both pre­vent the ma­jor im­pacts and strengthen their economies,” said Figueres, who now works with Mis­sion 2020, a group that cam­paigns to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions.

The meet­ing in Ka­tow­ice is re­garded as a key test of coun­tries’ will­ing­ness to back their lofty but dis­tant goals with con­crete mea­sures, some of which are al­ready draw­ing fierce protests . At the top of the agenda is the so-called Paris rule­book , which will de­ter­mine how gov­ern­ments record and re­port their green­house emis­sions and ef­forts to cut them.

Sep­a­rately, ne­go­tia­tors will dis­cuss ramp­ing up coun­tries’ na­tional emis­sions tar­gets af­ter 2020, and fi­nan­cial sup­port for poor na­tions that are strug­gling to adapt to climate change.

The shift away from fos­sil fu­els, which sci­en­tists say has to hap­pen by 2050, is ex­pected to re­quire a ma­jor over­haul of world economies.

“The good news is that we do know a lot of what we need to be able to do to get there,” said David Waskow of the World Re­sources In­sti­tute.

Waskow, who has fol­lowed climate talks for years, said de­spite the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­fusal to back this global ef­fort the mo­men­tum is go­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

“It’s not one or two play­ers any­more in the in­ter­na­tional arena,” he said. “It’s what I think you could call a distributed lead­er­ship, where you have a num­ber of coun­tries — some of them small or medium-sized — re­ally mak­ing head­way and do­ing it in tan­dem with cities and states and busi­nesses.”

Not far from the meet­ing venue, en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists held a small protest Sun­day to call for an end to coal min­ing in Poland, which gets some 80 per­cent of its en­ergy from coal. Ka­tow­ice is in the heart of Poland’s coal min­ing re­gion of Sile­sia, and there are sev­eral ac­tive mines in and around the city.

Marches aimed at show­ing sup­port for end­ing the use of coal-fired power plants and other ef­forts to limit climate change drew thou­sands of peo­ple over the week­end in Brus­sels, Berlin and Cologne.

But the gov­er­nor of Ger­many’s most pop­u­lous state said Sun­day it was pre­ma­ture to set a firm date for phas­ing out the use of coal-fired power plants. Armin Laschet, the gov­er­nor of North Rhine-West­phalia state, said Ger­many’s de­ci­sion to stop min­ing and burn­ing lig­nite coal “must be con­sid­ered se­ri­ously and de­cided with broad con­sen­sus.”

Ger­man of­fi­cials had hoped to present a blue­print for the coun­try’s exit from coal at the meet­ing in Ka­tow­ice but an ex­pert com­mit­tee has de­layed is­su­ing its rec­om­men­da­tions un­til next year.

/ AP-Christoph Soeder

Thou­sands of peo­ple are march­ing in Berlin and Cologne to de­mand that Ger­many make a quick exit from coal-fired en­ergy, a day be­fore a U.N. climate sum­mit opens in neigh­bor­ing Poland.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.