KATOWICE, Poland, Ministers from nations imperilled by rising seas and temperatures on Tuesday called for drastic action at UN climate talks deadlocked over a refusal by big polluters to embrace landmark environmental data.
The COP24 summit in Poland is scheduled to finish at the end of the week
but delegates are still worlds apart when it comes to agreeing on a rulebook
making good on the promises nailed down in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Tuesday saw ministers begin to put forward their country's case for action,
with several from small island states threatened with oblivion pleading for
We all need to act now and fast, but I must stress it requires a strong
political will by us leaders, said Taneti Maamau, president of Kiribati in
The Paris deal committed nations to limiting temperature rises to well
below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and beneath the safer cap of 1.5C
if at all possible.
But in the three years since, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to
rise and there are fears the political will to act is waning.
The talks were thrown into tumult over the weekend when the United States,
Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait blocked a proposal from 44 small island
nations for the UN body to welcome a recent UN report that drew the
starkest climate picture to date.
Unveiled in October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
special report concluded that CO2 emissions must drop a quarter within 12
years to stay under 2C, and by nearly half to cap warming at 1.5C, seen as a
safer guardrail against catastrophic extreme weather.
The four nations disagreed with the motion, and proposed that the UN
climate body simply note the report, rather than welcome it.
'We can avert disaster'
This added yet another hurdle to the already painstaking negotiating
A draft summary of the concluding COP24 text seen by AFP suggests nations
acknowledge the report and/or its quality and invites them to use the
information in the report far from what the atrisk countries are
US President Donald Trump, who said last month he did not believe his own
government's climate change predictions, has said he will renege on the Paris
But the US is still part of the UN climate process as its prestanding
commitments last until 2020.
Without naming any of the four holdouts, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry
Puna accused some nations of not willing to accept the stark realities
outlined in this report.
The situation was so sensitive that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
made an unscheduled return to the talks on Tuesday as he was concerned about
how the COP was going, a UN source told AFP.
Science has provided unequivocal evidence to prove we can avert this dire
situation and achieve a 1.5C scenario for our planet but we need selfless and
visionary leaders with the political courage and conviction to act together
now, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told delegates.
Patricia Espinosa, the UN's climate chief, said Tuesday that many
political divisions remain.
Addressing ministers during a plenary session, she added: Each one of you
has the power to finish what you were sent here to do. This is the time for
concensus, for compromises to be reached for the good of all people.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)