UN’s climate chief asks nations to finish talks with strong outcome

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Katowice (Poland), Dec 12 (IANS) As the crucial two-week long climate negotiations by nearly 200 nation draws closer to culminate, UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa and other top UN officials making passionate pleas to governments to finish the work they set for themselves and conclude the summit with a strong and effective outcome.

The main objective of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24 is to finalise the implementation guidelines of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Amid the presence of 100 ministers in this Polish city to provide political guidance, Espinosa said on Tuesday: “Many political divisions remain. Many issues still must be overcome.”

“But I believe it’s within our grasp to finish the job. Let’s complete the Paris Agreement Work Program and, by doing so, immediately unleash the power of the Paris Agreement itself,” she said.

Climate negotiators told IANS that Espinosa’s plea comes in the wake of sharp differences between the rich and poor countries over climate finance, transfer of technology and mitigation.

“The developed countries have effectively taken a stand that the differentiation between the developed and developing countries can no longer be operationalised in the Paris rulebook,” a negotiator said.

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The rulebook is a Bible for transparent implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement — the first global treaty to reduce emissions by all rich and poor nations.

Last week, the four big oil and gas producers — the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait — had faced off against every other country who wanted to formally “welcome” in the UN text the landmark 1.5 degrees Celsius IPCC report that talks about urgency and also scaled up ambition by the world.

The US had even rejected the science itself, standing alone among all the world’s countries in refusing to endorse the findings of the report.

Ahead of the COP24, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report on the achievability and implications of a 1.5 degrees Celsius global average temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels, the lower temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

In Katowice, IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee reiterated the key findings of the report, namely that the temperature goal is achievable, but that this can only happen if there if governments take urgent and far-reaching action in all aspects of society, with many implications for policy-making.

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“Every bit of warming matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters. With this report, the scientific message is clear. It is now up to you, the governments, to act,” he said.

World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas at the COP24 warned that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions were unsustainable, and were already leading to dramatic climate change impacts around the world, from the melting of Artic ice to many incidents of fires flooding this fear.

“We are expecting a two to four per cent increase in global carbon dioxide emissions this year. If we are serious about the Paris Agreement, we need to see different numbers.”

Good news also came during the COP24.

Germany announced that it will double its contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to euro 1.5 billion.

France and China together with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared to acecooperate closely to make this summit a defining moment to accelerate action, increase ambition and mobilize the required resources to achieve an ecological transition”.

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The World Bank announced it will double investments in climate action to about $200 billion from 2021-2025.

India’s Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan signaled that the country is ready to update its nationally determined contributions or NDCs if other countries do the same, followed Canada to continue to lead critical climate negotiations.

The world’s largest container shipping company Maersk pledged zero emissions by 2050.

Volkswagen also announced that it will sell no more combustion cars after 2040 and will put the last fossil-fuel based models on the market in 2032.

A WHO report says the health benefits of meeting the Paris goals outweigh costs by far.

And New Zealand released a defence policy statement, identifying climate change as the country’s most significant security threat.

(Vishal Gulati is in Katowice at the invitation of Climate Trends to cover the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24. He can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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