UN climate talks wrap up as US stands firm on fossil fuels

| Updated on: Nov 17, 2017

UN negotiations on implementing the Paris climate change agreement wrap up today after two weeks of talks that were slowed down by the United States defending the use of fossil fuels.

Envoys from nearly 200 countries, including delegates from Washington, gathered for the conference in Bonn to negotiate a “rulebook”, to be adopted next year, for enacting the global deal reached to cheers and champagne in 2015.

Delegates reported mixed progress in Germany, with the reemergence of divisions between rich and developing countries.

Divisions among countries

A key stumbling block was on finance for the world’s poorer nations to help them prepare for, and deal with, the fallout from climate change, including more frequent and severe superstorms, droughts and land- and crop-gobbling sea level rises.

Another obstacle was the insistence of developed nations—led by the US—that all countries share similar obligations under the Paris pact, while developing greenhouse gas polluters want a certain degree of leeway.

The November 6—17 conference is the first of the UN’s climate body since President Donald Trump announced in June that the US will withdraw from the agreement championed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

The rules determine it can only leave in November 2020, and in the meantime, Washington continues to fill its seat at the climate talks.

“Heart wasn’t there”

“The stars are not well aligned since Trump’s exit (from the pact),” Seyni Nafo, a negotiator for African nations, told AFP of the talks.

“It’s like the heart wasn’t there. The position of the United States influences other developed countries, which in turn has consequences for the positions major developing nations adopt. It’s a game of wait-and-see,” he said.

Not helping the mood, White House officials, on Monday, hosted a sideline event with energy company bosses to defend the continued use of fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas blamed for emitting planet-warming gases into the Earth’s atmosphere.

At its very essence, the Paris Agreement seeks a drawdown of carbon emissions. It commits countries to limiting average global warming to under two degrees Celsius over Industrial Revolution levels, and 1.5C if possible, to avert worst-case-scenario climate change.

Published on January 09, 2018

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