Nations pressed to tackle 'urgent threats' at UN climate talks

Scientists have warned that we need to cut fossil fuel emissions by half by 2030 to avert disaster
Scientists have warned that we need to cut fossil fuel emissions by half by 2030 to avert disaster

With the direst environmental warnings yet still ringing in their ears, nations gathered in Poland Sunday for a UN summit aimed at heading off the "urgent threat" of runaway climate change.

The UN talks come at a crucial juncture in mankind's response to planetary warming. The smaller, poorer nations that will bare its devastating brunt are pushing for richer states to make good on the promises they made in the 2015 Paris agreement.

In Paris three years ago, countries committed to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to the safer cap of 1.5C if at all possible.

But with only a single degree Celsius of warming so far, the world has already seen a crescendo of deadly wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes made more destructive by rising seas.

"Climate change impacts have never been worse," Patricia Espinosa told journalists after Sunday's first negotiating session.

"This reality is telling us that we need to do much more."

In a rare intervention, presidents of previous UN climate summits issued a joint statement as the talks got underway, calling on states to take "decisive action... to tackle these urgent threats".

"The impacts of climate change are increasingly hard to ignore," said the statement, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. "We require deep transformations of our economies and societies."

The world has already seen a crescendo of deadly wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes made more destructive by rising seas
The world has already seen a crescendo of deadly wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes made more destructive by rising seas

At the COP24 climate talks, nations must agree to a rulebook palatable to all 183 states who have ratified the Paris deal.

This is far from a given: the dust is still settling from US President Donald Trump's decision to ditch the Paris accord.

G20 leaders on Saturday agreed a final communique after their summit in Buenos Aires, declaring that the Paris Agreement was "irreversible".

But it said the US "reiterates its decision to withdraw" from the landmark accord.

The UN negotiations got off to a chaotic start in the Polish mining city of Katowice Sunday, with the opening session delayed nearly three hours by a series out last-ditch submissions from countries.

Even solid progress on the Paris goals may not be enough to prevent runaway global warming, as a series of major climate reports have outlined.

Climate 'tipping points': the Earth's ticking time bombs
Selection of natural phenomena which could become dangerous for the climate if they reach their tipping points

'Failure to act will be catastrophic'

Just this week, the UN's environment programme said the voluntary national contributions agreed in Paris would have to triple if the world was to cap global warming below 2C.

For 1.5C, they must increase fivefold.

While the data are clear, a global political consensus over how to tackle climate change remains elusive.

"Katowice may show us if there will be any domino effect" following the US withdrawal, said Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and a main architect of the Paris deal.

Brazil's strongman president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, for one, has promised to follow the American lead during his campaign.

In Paris three years ago, countries committed to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F
In Paris three years ago, countries committed to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to the safer cap of 1.5C if at all possible

Even the most strident climate warnings—spiralling temperatures, global sea-level rises, mass crop failures—are something that many developed nations will only have to tackle in future.

But many other countries are already dealing with the droughts, higher seas and catastrophic storms climate change is exacerbating.

"A failure to act now risks pushing us beyond a point of no return with catastrophic consequences for life as we know it," said Amjad Abdulla, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, of the UN talks.

A key issue up for debate is how the fight against climate change is funded, with developed and developing nations still world's apart in their demands.

Poorer nations argue that rich countries, which are responsible for the vast majority of historic carbon emissions, must help others to fund climate action.

"Developed nations led by the US will want to ignore their historic responsibilities and will say the world has changed," said Meena Ramam, from the Third World Network advocacy group.

"The question really is: how do you ensure that ambitious actions are done in an equitable way?"

Global warming predictions
Global warming prediction for 2100

Explore further

High hopes and low expectations for UN climate summit

© 2018 AFP

Citation: Nations pressed to tackle 'urgent threats' at UN climate talks (2018, December 2) retrieved 19 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-alarm-nations-urged-climate.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
36 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Dec 02, 2018
Only a couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that a "peer reviewed" article printed in Nature magazine was false. In fact, this continues a pattern of up to 90% of all "peer reviewed" articles being found to make claims that are irreproducible. What no one wants to mention, either, is that many of the claims being made about "climate change" likely also come from those "peer reviewed" articles making irreproducible assertions! No one suggests making an actual assay of "climate change" assertions and looking to see if any come from false "peer reviewed" articles! This sounds very much like the form of a machination to perpetuate a fraud.
Climate isn't changing, only the behavior of the atmosphere, and that is being caused by chemtrails.

Dec 02, 2018
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire...

"Only a couple of weeks ago, it was revealed that a "peer reviewed" article printed in Nature magazine was false." - julianpenrod

The results presented in the article you refer to have not changed.

What did change were the error bars surrounding those results.

So why did you feel a need to lie about it?

Dec 02, 2018
Press China. Let us know how that works out.

Dec 03, 2018
Things can still be controlled if top 3 CO2 producers, China (26.8%), US (13.1%), and Europe (9%) offer firm commitment for cutting emissions.

But, it seems highly unlikely to happen. It is almost certain that world temperature will cross 1.5 (or 2) degree C by 2100.

Individual country's emissions contribution is here: http://wedocs.une...quence=1

In a few thousand years, the sixth mass extinction event is likely to set in.

Dec 03, 2018
The mass extinction has already begun.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more