Mon, Dec 03, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Climate talks open in Poland following G20 summit boost

AP, KATOWICE, Poland

Men walk past a power plant in Beijing, China, yesterday amid heavy pollution.

Photo:EPA-EFE

Negotiators from around the world yesterday began two weeks of talks on curbing climate change, three years after sealing a landmark deal in Paris that set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2?C.

Envoys from about 200 nations gathered in Katowice, Poland, a day earlier than originally planned for the UN meeting that is to run until Friday next week.

Ministers and some heads of state are gathering today, when Poland is to push for a joint declaration to ensure a “just transition” for fossil fuel industries such as coal producers who are facing closures as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The meeting received a boost over the weekend, after 19 major economies at the G20 summit affirmed their commitment to the 2015 Paris climate accord. The only holdout was the US.

“Despite geopolitical instability, the climate consensus is proving highly resilient,” former UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Christiana Figueres said.

“It is sad that the federal administration of the United States, a country that is increasingly feeling the full force of climate impacts, continues to refuse to listen to the objective voice of science when it comes to climate change,” Figueres said.

She cited a recent expert report warning of the consequences of letting average global temperatures rise beyond 1.5?C.

“The rest of the G20 have not only understood the science, they are taking actions to both prevent the major impacts and strengthen their economies,” said Figueres, who now works with Mission 2020, a group that campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The meeting in Katowice is regarded as a key test of countries’ willingness to back their lofty but distant goals with concrete measures, some of which are already drawing fierce protests.

At the top of the agenda is the so-called “Paris rulebook,” which is to determine how governments record and report their greenhouse emissions and efforts to cut them.

Separately, negotiators are to discuss increasing countries’ national emissions targets after 2020, and financial support for poor nations that are struggling to adapt to climate change.

The shift away from fossil fuels, which scientists say has to happen by 2050, is expected to require a major overhaul of world economies.

Later yesterday, protests were planned by environmental activists calling for an end to coal mining in Poland, which gets about 80 percent of its energy from coal.

Katowice is at the heart of Silesia, Poland’s coal mining region, and there are still several active mines in and around the city.

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