Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Fiji opens Bonn talks with plea

HONORING PARIS:The meeting was supposed to lead to a rule book on how to implement the 2015 treaty’s provisions, but the US disrupted the plan

AFP, BONN, Germany

Fijians yesterday perform a traditional ceremony during the opening of UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Following a cascade of grim reports on the gathering pace of global warming, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama yesterday appealed for “urgent action” on climate change at UN negotiations in Bonn.

“The need for urgency is obvious,” Bainimarama said.

“Our world is in distress from extreme weather events caused by climate change — destructive hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, melting ice and changes to agriculture that threaten our food security,” he told the opening plenary of the 12-day talks over which he will preside.

“Our collective plea for the world is to maintain the course we set in Paris,” he added, referring to the 196-nation treaty inked in 2015.

However, five months after US President Donald Trump said he would yank the US out of that pact, diplomats and leaders are still wondering to what extent he will make their jobs more difficult.

“We have less than three years left to bend the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions downward to avoid the very worst and most catastrophic impacts of climate change,” said Paula Caballero, global director for climate at the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based policy think tank.

The concern is whether other leaders who were already reluctant to foreswear fossil fuels as the main engine of economic growth for their countries will lose resolve.

“The Paris Agreement boosted climate action, but momentum is clearly faltering,” Costa Rican Minister of Environment and Energy Edgar Gutierrez-Espeleta.

“It will be very important to listen to ministers, to see how determined they are, and whether there will be any back-sliding,” said European Climate Foundation president Laurence Tubiana, who as France’s climate ambassador in 2015 was one of the Paris Agreement’s main architects.

The Bonn meeting was supposed to be mostly technical, a chance to complete a complicated “rule book” for implementing the treaty’s provisions, “but with the US decision, it has in fact become an important ‘political moment,’” Tubiana said.

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