Tuesday, November 08, 2016

‘Critical Moment’ as UN Climate Talks Resume

Senior U.N. climate officials at the opening ceremony of a new round of United Nations climate talks. (Credit: UNFCCC/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Leaders of nations overwhelmed by fallouts from wars and ravaged by political divisions are gathering in western Morocco, where they will attempt during the next two weeks to unite around a cooperative new approach to easing the worsening ravages of global warming.

Ahead of the first major United Nations climate negotiations since an aspirational agreement was struck in Paris last December, the world’s greatest greenhouse gas polluters, China and the U.S., have signaled that they will continue to try to lead the world toward ambitious climate action following decades of inaction.
“The Paris Agreement was a turning point in terms of setting in place a framework, an international framework for action,” John Morton, director for energy and climate change at the National Security Council, a White House body, told reporters last week.  “We intend to really intensify our work in turning toward implementation.”

Even as Tuesday’s election rattles climate negotiators, China and the U.S. have been doubling down on their growing commitments to fighting climate change.  China has announced a new goal for easing its dependence on fossil fuels by 2020.  During the Marrakesh meetings, the U.S. will publish ideas for eliminating most of the carbon pollution from its economy by 2050.

“We’re at an unprecedented stage in climate negotiations,” Morton said.  “2016 has been a truly historic year for international climate action.”

Following a week of networking and low-level talks, senior government officials will begin four days of high-level negotiations on Nov. 15.  They will haggle over rules about the information governments should share about progress toward reducing climate impacts.  The Paris agreement features non-binding national climate pledges, and rules will be considered for improving those pledges over time.  Timelines and bookkeeping rules will be drafted.

Poor and developing countries will pressure those nations that got rich by burning fossil fuels to make good on their promises of helping them meet costs of deploying solar and wind energy and adapting to climate change’s impacts.

Since 2009 Western governments have been pledging the “mobilizing” of $100 billion a year in climate financing by 2020 for poorer nations, though the Paris agreement failed to lay out rules for ensuring those promises are kept.

“The money that was promised is only being delivered in a trickle,” said Saleem Huq, a climate change fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development, a group based in London that promotes sustainable development.  “We need to open the spigots in Marrakesh.”

The meetings are being held near the end of what will be the third consecutive year of record-breaking heat worldwide.  Rising temperatures from greenhouse gases are powering typhoons and hurricanes, and stoking wildfires across the American West.

Read more at ‘Critical Moment’ as UN Climate Talks Resume

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