Global cli­mate talk deal is reached

But two tough is­sues linger, put off for next year

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Frank Jor­dans

Agree­ment from 200 na­tions en­ables coun­tries to put into ac­tion prin­ci­ples in the 2015 Paris cli­mate ac­cord.

KATOWICE, Poland — After two weeks of bruis­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions, of­fi­cials from al­most 200 coun­tries agreed Satur­day on uni­ver­sal, trans­par­ent rules that will gov­ern ef­forts to cut emis­sions and curb global warm­ing. Fierce dis­agree­ments on two other cli­mate is­sues were kicked down the road for a year to help bridge a chasm of opin­ions on the best so­lu­tions.

The deal agreed upon at U.N. cli­mate talks in Poland en­ables coun­tries to put into ac­tion the prin­ci­ples in the 2015 Paris cli­mate ac­cord. But to the frus­tra­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists and some coun­tries urg­ing more am­bi­tious cli­mate goals, ne­go­tia­tors de­layed de­ci­sions on two key is­sues un­til next year in an ef­fort to get a deal on them.

“Through this pack­age, you have made a thou­sand lit­tle steps for­ward to­gether,” said Michal Kur­tyka, a se­nior Pol­ish of­fi­cial chair­ing the talks.

He said while each coun­try would likely find some parts of the agree­ment it didn’t like, ef­forts had been made to bal­ance the in­ter­ests of all par­ties.

“We will all have to give in or­der to gain,” he said. “We will all have to be coura­geous to look into the fu­ture and make yet an­other step for the sake of hu­man­ity.”

The talks in Poland took place against a back­drop of grow­ing con­cern among sci­en­tists that global warm­ing on Earth is pro­ceed­ing faster than govern­ments are re­spond­ing to it.

Last month, a study found that global warm­ing will worsen dis­as­ters such

as the deadly Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires and the pow­er­ful hur­ri­canes that have hit the United States this year.

A re­cent re­port by the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change, or IPCC, con­cluded that while it’s pos­si­ble to cap global warm­ing at 2.7 de­grees Fahren­heit by the end of the cen­tury com­pared to pre-in­dus­trial times, this would re­quire a dra­matic over­haul of the global econ­omy, in­clud­ing a shift away from fos­sil fu­els.

Alarmed by ef­forts to in­clude this in the fi­nal text of the meet­ing, the oil­ex­port­ing na­tions of the U.S., Rus­sia, Saudi Ara­bia and Kuwait blocked an en­dorse­ment of the IPCC re­port mid-way through this month’s talks in the Pol­ish city of Katowice.

That prompted an up­roar from vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries like small is­land na­tions and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

The fi­nal text at the U.N. talks omits a pre­vi­ous ref­er­ence to spe­cific re­duc­tions in green­house gas emis­sions by 2030, and merely wel­comes the “timely com­ple­tion” of the IPCC re­port, not its con­clu­sions.

Last-minute snags forced ne­go­tia­tors in Katowice to go into ex­tra time, after Fri­day’s sched­uled end of the con­fer­ence had passed with­out a deal.

One ma­jor stick­ing point was how to cre­ate a func­tion­ing mar­ket in car­bon cred­its. Economists be­lieve that an in­ter­na­tional trad­ing sys­tem could be an ef­fec­tive way to drive down green­house gas emis­sions and raise large amounts of money for mea­sures to curb global warm­ing.

But Brazil wanted to keep the piles of car­bon cred­its it had amassed un­der an old sys­tem that de­vel­oped coun­tries say wasn’t cred­i­ble.

Among those that pushed back hard­est was the United States, de­spite Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull out of the Paris cli­mate ac­cord and pro­mote the use of coal.

“Over­all, the U.S. role here has been some­what schiz­o­phrenic — push­ing coal and diss­ing science on the one hand, but also work­ing hard in the room for strong trans­parency rules,” said El­liot Diringer of the Cen­ter for Cli­mate and En­ergy So­lu­tions, a Wash­ing­ton think tank.

When it came to clos­ing po­ten­tial loop­holes that could al­low coun­tries to dodge their com­mit­ments to cut emis­sions, “the U.S. pushed harder than nearly any­one else for trans­parency rules that put all coun­tries un­der the same sys­tem, and it’s largely suc­ceeded.”

CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI/AP

“You have made a thou­sand lit­tle steps for­ward to­gether,” said Michal Kur­tyka, a Pol­ish of­fi­cial chair­ing the talks.

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