Fate of global climate action 'in the balance' as U.N. talks go down to wire

By Matthew Green and Valerie Volcovici MADRID (Reuters) - Big polluting countries faced last-ditch pressure from smaller nations on Friday to show serious commitment to averting catastrophic climate change as negotiators battled to salvage a result from a fraught U.N. summit in Madrid.

Reuters December 14, 2019 05:10:59 IST
Fate of global climate action 'in the balance' as U.N. talks go down to wire

Fate of global climate action in the balance as UN talks go down to wire

By Matthew Green and Valerie Volcovici

MADRID (Reuters) - Big polluting countries faced last-ditch pressure from smaller nations on Friday to show serious commitment to averting catastrophic climate change as negotiators battled to salvage a result from a fraught U.N. summit in Madrid.

With the final hours of the two-week gathering still mired in multiple interlocking disputes over how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming, Chile, presiding over the talks, tried to inject a note of optimism.

"Today is the day when we must show the world that we are capable of delivering the agreements that are needed to tackle the unprecedented challenge before us," Andrés Landerretche, a Chilean official, told a news conference.

But observers said delegates were struggling to resolve the question of whether big emitters will signal their intent to raise their emissions-cutting targets next year, when the Paris deal enters a make-or-break implementation phase.

"The fate of the Paris Agreement is in the balance," said Andrew Norton, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, a London-based think tank.

Fast-growing emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil are reluctant to commit themselves to unveiling new goals so soon, observers say, fearing they will end up paying the price of emissions cuts that should be borne by the rich.

The European Union, whose members, barring Poland, agreed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at a summit in Brussels on Thursday, is pushing for a more ambitious statement of intent, along with many of the most vulnerable developing countries.

After two weeks of talks in Madrid, held after months of preparation, ministers were holed up in small groups attempting to break deadlocks over financial aid for states at most risk from climate change, and rules governing carbon markets.

Progress on those issues would help deliver the bigger prize: a clear statement from the gathering that governments are committed to honoring the Paris deal by imminently announcing more ambitious action to wean themselves off fossil fuels.

"There is a very big question on the commitment of the parties to the Paris Agreement," said Mohamed Nasr, chair of the Africa bloc of negotiators.

'25 YEARS OF TALKS'

With scientists warning that the window to prevent the Earth's climate hitting irreversible tipping points is fast closing, an increasingly strident activism movement says a strong signal from the summit is the only acceptable outcome.

"We've had 25 years of talks and the only thing that really matters is global emissions are still rising," said Tim Crosland, a prominent member of Extinction Rebellion, a civil disobedience campaign, after meeting officials at the talks.

Campaigners are concerned that as negotiations dragged on into the early hours of Saturday, delegates may be tempted to hastily adopt weak resolutions to conclude the marathon.

The talks have been overshadowed since the outset by a formal move by U.S. President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing from the Paris accord last month.

Observers said the U.S. delegation repeated a pattern seen at past talks of blocking progress toward ensuring poor countries can secure compensation for climate-related losses.

But the weight of negotiating effort focused on trying to persuade Australia, Brazil and others to drop their insistence on carrying over credits from old carbon trading schemes.

The EU and small island states say that continuing to count such credits would dramatically weaken the fight to curb emissions.

Brazil has also come under fire for opposing attempts to impose gold standard accounting rules on the carbon trade.

"We don't want any accounting tricks being created here," said Sam Van den plas, policy director at Carbon Market Watch, an advocacy group. "It would be a massive disaster ... if we end up with flawed and weak rules."

(Reporting by Matthew Green and Valerie Volcovici; Additional reporting by Jake Spring; Writing by Matthew Green; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Daniel Wallis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.