Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Boost Planned for Global Climate Treaty

The future of the global climate treaty could hang on the outcome of talks under way in Germany aimed at turning its promises into action.

Floods in Bangladesh: Survival is at stake. (Image Credit: SuSanA Secretariat, via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
The global climate treaty, the Paris Agreement, already ratified by a huge majority of the world’s governments, is for the next 10 days in intensive care.

That doesn’t mean it’s in danger of expiring, but that it needs a hefty boost so that the countries which signed up to it in 2015 will make commitments that will give it teeth.

So talks aimed at ramping up international action to cut carbon emissions and speed up progress on the treaty have begun in the German city of Bonn, attended by representatives of 193 governments.

The talks last until 10 May, and the basic agreements which the organisers, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, hope they will have reached by then will go to a summit meeting in December for approval.

Today the world is on course to heat up by 3°C under the impact of the increasing consumption of fossil fuels, double the amount that scientists say is likely to be sustainable by human civilization and the natural world.  The talks are aimed at getting governments to be far more ambitious than their current national plans for greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

With 2017 already the costliest on record for climate-related disasters as well as the third hottest ever recorded for the US, the effects of climate change are already causing severe economic and political problems.  The World Bank says 143 million people may soon become climate migrants.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Climate Change secretariat, said:  “The Talanoa Dialogue is a key opportunity for all stakeholders to come together and share stories on how we can significantly step up climate action to prevent even greater human suffering in the future.”

This first phase of the Fiji-led Dialogue will introduce a new element to the talks on 6 May, when countries and other stakeholders, including cities, businesses, investors, and regions, engage for the first time in what is billed as interactive story-telling around their ambitions.

Silver lining
This will include many US stakeholders who disagree with Donald Trump.  He has repudiated the Paris Agreement and seems unable to accept the scientific consensus that human activity is warming the world – a setback which seems to have redoubled some countries’ efforts to act to reduce their own emissions.

There are hopes that, by COP 24, 30 more countries will have joined the 111 that have already ratified another agreement, the Doha Amendment, which is aimed at implementing extra emissions reductions for developed countries.

The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, an international group of US-based grass roots organisations, says there are only four years left to take the radical action needed if the Paris Agreement’s ambitious target of keeping global average temperature rise at no more than 1°5C above pre-industrial levels is to be achieved  (Paris’s other, more modest target is 2°C).  It says countries must step up their action in both the short and the long term.

As ever, one sticking point in Bonn is finance, particularly how the rich countries that have largely caused the problem of climate change should help poorer countries adapt to rising temperatures and sea levels.  Developed countries pledged in 2009 to provide US$100bn a year by 2020 to help this adaptation, but they are far from reaching their goal – and President Trump has withdrawn a US pledge of $2bn.

Read more at Boost Planned for Global Climate Treaty

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