The Dallas Morning News
Arguments hold up key U.N. report
Issues include emissions targets, deciding which nations get financial aid
BERLIN — Publication of a major new United Nations report on climate change is being held up by a battle between rich and developing countries over emissions targets and financial aid to vulnerable nations.
The report by hundreds of the world’s top scientists was supposed to be approved by government delegations Friday at the end of a weeklong meeting in the Swiss town of Interlaken.
The deadline was repeatedly extended as officials from big nations such as China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, as well as the U.N. and the European Union haggled over the weekend about how to word key phrases in the text.
The report by the U.N.’S Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is meant to cap a series that digests vasts amounts of research on global warming compiled since the Paris climate accord was reached in 2015.
A summary of the report was approved early Sunday, but sources close to the talks have said there is a risk that agreement on the main text may need to be postponed to a later meeting. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of the talks.
The unusual process of having countries sign off on a scientific report is intended to ensure that governments accept its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.
At the start of the meeting U.N. Secretary-general Antonio Guterres called on delegates to provide “cold, hard facts” to drive home the message that there’s little time left for the world to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees compared with pre-industrial times.
While average global temperatures have already increased by 2 degrees since the 19th century, Guterrres insisted that the 2.7degree target limit remains possible “with rapid and deep emissions reductions across all sectors of the global economy.”
Among the thorniest issues in the talks is how to define which nations count as vulnerable developing countries, making them eligible for cash from a “loss and damage” fund agreed to at the last U.N. climate talks in Egypt. Delegates have also battled over figures stating by how much greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut in coming years.
As the nation that has released the most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since industrialization, the U.S. has pushed back strongly against the notion of historic responsibility for climate change.