Glasgow climate talks are on edge over money, ambition and fossil fuels

GLASGOW – International climate talks went overtime Friday night as negotiators wrestled behind closed doors over several sticking point...


GLASGOW – International climate talks went overtime Friday night as negotiators wrestled behind closed doors over several sticking points in a deal that could determine whether nations can prevent the planet from getting dangerously hot from here the middle of the century.

A draft agreement released Friday morning called for doubling funds to help developing countries cope with climate impacts, and said countries should step up their emission reduction targets by next year. The document urged countries to accelerate the phase-out of coal and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

Negotiators from around 200 countries worked until Saturday morning, discussing several aspects of the document, including whether to ask countries to come back next year with stronger emissions plans, if rich countries should. provide financial assistance to developing countries suffering the worst impacts, and how to structure a global carbon market.

They even questioned whether the final deal should mention the words “fossil fuels,” which have never appeared before in a global climate deal even though their combustion is the main cause of climate change.

One of the most controversial questions is whether industrialized countries that have prospered by burning coal, oil and gas should pay developing countries for irreparable harm they chatted.

The state of negotiations reflected the pressure build-up polluting countries not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions much faster than they wanted, but also to remedy the damage these emissions have inflicted on the countries least responsible for the problem.

“There is a huge gap between where we are, where we will be based on current projections and where we need to be in terms of what the science is telling us,” said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, a negotiator from Bangladesh.

A new draft text was expected Saturday morning, according to the organizers of the summit. To reach a final agreement, all parties must approve. Traditionally, if a country objects to the language in the deal, talks can end up at an impasse.

Summit host Britain had said its goal was to ensure the planet would not heat more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, compared to pre-industrial times. This is the threshold beyond which scientists say devastating heat waves, fires and floods become much more likely.

This goal is nowhere within reach.

The world has already warmed by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, although some places have already heated more than that. Analysis find that even if all the wages made in Glasgow are kept, temperatures will soar another 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Kenyan Environment Minister Keriako Tobiko noted that an average increase in global temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius would translate to 3 degrees in Africa, intensifying erratic rainfall and drought regimes that are already penalizing farmers .

“In Kenya and Africa, we cry, we bleed. We bleed when it rains, we cry when it isn’t raining, ”he said. “So for us, ambition, 1.5 is not a statistic. It is a matter of life and death.”

The pressure mounted throughout the day to deliver a solid final document. At noon, more than 700 climate activists marched through the summit’s convention center, chanting “climate justice” and calling for more ambitious goals. They spread through the streets to join noisy crowds of more protesters.

The protests livened up the two-week debates, which were dominated by well-crafted speeches on stage and argument over verbs in small meeting rooms. But they also served as a reminder to politicians and diplomats of the demands of ordinary citizens. Halfway through the summit, more than 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Glasgow, many of them young, angrily demanding that world leaders take aggressive action to tackle the climate crisis.

A British diplomat following the negotiations closely said the talks would end on the wire.

“A number of key issues are still at play here, and we are still far from an outcome,” said David Waskow, international director of climate at the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank.

The latest draft also “asks” countries to come back every year to step up their emission reduction targets until the 1.5 degree Celsius target is within reach. In diplomatic terms, it’s more tame than the “urges” that were used in the previous version.

Even at today’s temperatures, said Mr. Chowdhury, “we see the destruction, the devastation, the pain, the suffering that every country in the world is facing.” Mr. Chowdhury is from Bangladesh, one of the countries that has suffered the most from climate change. He received sustained applause from delegates in the plenary hall.

The latest draft calls on countries to accelerate “the phase-out of coal-fired electricity and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. Unreduced coal refers to power plants that do not capture their carbon dioxide emissions using nascent technology that is currently not commercially available. The language would allow power plants equipped with the technology to continue to burn coal, and is a change from previous language calling on nations to “accelerate the phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies.”

John Kerry, the United States’ special envoy for climate change, described a fossil on Friday fuel subsidies as a “definition of insanity”, denounce measures taken by governments which artificially lower the price of coal, oil or gas.

The world spends about $ 423 billion each year to subsidize oil, gas and coal, about four times the amount needed to help poor countries tackle climate change, according to the United Nations Development Program.

Officials in other countries have argued that the words “tirelessly” and “ineffective” should be removed from the agreement.

“We need clear language on the need to eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies, not just the inefficient ones, and to accelerate the phase-out of coal-fired electricity,” said Andrea Meza, Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica.

“Weasel words,” called them Catherine Abreu, executive director of Destination Zero, an environmental group.

Mr Kerry has been a tireless champion of the coal language, saying commercial carbon capture technology may be available in the future.

It is not known if the language of coal will remain in the final version, given that countries like China, India, Poland and the United States is still heavily dependent on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

During negotiations on Friday evening, diplomats debated how to write regulations to govern the rapidly growing global market for carbon offsets, in which a company or country offsets its own emissions by paying someone else. other to reduce theirs. One of the thorniest technical issues is how to properly account for this global trade so that emission reductions are not overestimated or double-counted, and negotiators still have not resolved debates on how best to achieve this. do it.

It is common for United Nations climate conferences, which are supposed to last two weeks, to work overtime. Diplomats often don’t go into detail until the last night.

Lia Nicholson, who represents the small island nations in the negotiations, said the group “finds itself in the final hours of this conference overwhelmed by the work ahead.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Glasgow climate talks are on edge over money, ambition and fossil fuels
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