Battle for science delays important UN climate report
BERLIN (AP) – The release of a major new UN report on climate change is being held up by a battle between rich and developing countries over emissions targets and financial aid for vulnerable nations.
The report by hundreds of the world’s top scientists was due to be approved by government delegations at the end of a week-long meeting in the Swiss city of Interlaken on Friday.
The deadline was repeatedly extended as officials from major nations including China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and the European Union haggled over the wording of key phrases in the text all weekend.
The report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is set to cap a series that brings together a vast body of research on global warming compiled since the Paris Climate Agreement was agreed in 2015.
A summary of the report was approved early Sunday, but three sources close to the talks have told The Associated Press there is a risk that agreement on the main text may have to be postponed to a later meeting. Due to the confidential nature of the talks, they spoke on condition of anonymity.
The unusual process by which countries sign off on a scientific report is designed to ensure governments recognize its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.
At the start of the meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged delegates to provide “cold, hard facts” to get the message across that the world has little time left to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2nd January). .7 Fahrenheit) with pre-industrial times.
While average global temperatures have already risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century, Guterrres insisted that the 1.5 degree target remains possible “with rapid and deep emissions cuts in all sectors of the global economy”.
Observers said the IPCC meetings have become increasingly politicized as the commitment to curbing global warming mounts, mirroring the annual UN climate talks, which usually take place at the end of the year.
One of the most thorny issues at the current meeting is how to define which nations are considered vulnerable developing countries so that they are eligible for money from a “loss and damage” fund agreed at the recent UN climate talks in Egypt. Delegates have also squabbled over figures for how much greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced in the coming years and how to include man-made or natural CO2 removal efforts in the equations.
As the country that released the greatest amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since industrialization, the United States has strongly resisted the notion of historical responsibility for climate change.
This story has been corrected to the United States, not the United Nations, in the third paragraph.
Frank Jordans, The Associated Press