As people across the globe are rising up to demand bold climate action amid record-breaking levels of planet-warming emissions, “off the charts” rates of melting ice, and mounting concerns about extreme weather and declining biodiversity, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday warned world leaders of the consequences if the COP24 talks in Poland conclude without an ambitious plan for the future.
“To waste this opportunity in Katowice would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”
—U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres
“To waste this opportunity in Katowice would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change,” he declared. “It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”
“In my opening statement to this conference one week ago,” Guterres said, “I warned that climate change is running faster than we are and that Katowice must—in no uncertain terms—be a success, as a necessary platform to reverse this trend.”
Since then, parties to the Paris agreement—supported by every nation on Earth except the United States, after President Donald Trump announced last year that he plans to withdraw from it—have engaged in negotiations on how to reach the accord’s goals to curb global warming. But with the summit slated to end Friday, as Guterres noted, “key political issues remain unresolved.”
Sticking points include how to set rules for industrialized versus developing nations; which scientific findings to rely on; how to track emissions levels in a way that ensures accountability; and how to reach the financial goal of the Paris agreement, to mobilize $100 billion to address the climate crisis each year beginning in 2020.
Following reports on Tuesday that negotiators were working behind closed doors in hopes of resolving persistent disagreements over what the Paris accord’s official rulebook should look like, Poland on Wednesday began circulating “a condensed draft text…running to about 100 pages, down from about 300 at the start of the talks,” according to the Associated Press.
In an interview with the AP, Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan, who is in Katowice for the summit, raised concerns that some of the current draft’s provisions don’t go nearly far enough in terms of holding the world’s worst polluters accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions.
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