Nations approve major UN scientific report on climate change

Governments gave their blessing on Sunday to a major new UN report on climate change, after approval was halted due to a battle between rich and developing countries over emissions targets and financial aid to nations. vulnerable.

The report from hundreds of the world’s top scientists was supposed to be approved by government delegations on Friday at the end of a week-long meeting in the Swiss city of Interlaken.

The closing hammer was repeatedly delayed as officials from major nations including China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the United States and the European Union haggled over the weekend over the wording of key phrases in the text.

The report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) culminates a series digesting vast amounts of global warming research compiled since the Paris climate accord was agreed in 2015.

The industrial backdrop of a BP refinery and a Uniper coal-fired power plant is seen in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on March 6, 2023.
Major nations such as China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the US and the European Union delayed the release of the new main report on climate change while arguing over the wording of the key phrases (Martin Meissner/AP)

A summary of the report was approved early Sunday, but agreement on the main text dragged on for several more hours, and some observers feared it might have to be postponed.

The UN plans to release the report at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

The unusual process of getting countries to sign off on a scientific report is meant to ensure that governments accept their findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.

A generally submerged section of Lake Serre-Poncon runs dry in southern France on March 14, 2023.
A generally submerged section of Lake Serre-Poncon runs dry in southern France on March 14, 2023 (Daniel Cole/AP)

At the start of the meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on delegates to provide “cold, hard facts” to get the message across that time is short for the world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. centigrade compared to before. industrial times.

While average global temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees since the 19th century, Guterres insisted that the 1.5 degree target limit remains achievable “with rapid and deep emission reductions across all sectors of the global economy.”

Observers said the IPCC meetings have become increasingly politicized as risks to curb global warming rise, mirroring the annual UN climate talks that usually take place at the end of the year.

People walk through floodwaters caused by heavy rains last week caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy in Phalombe, southern Malawi on March 18, 2023.
People wade through flood waters caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy in Phalombe, southern Malawi, on March 18, 2023 (Thoko Chikondi/AP)

Among the thorniest issues at the current meeting was how to define which nations count as vulnerable developing countries, making them eligible to receive cash from a “loss and damage” fund agreed at the latest UN climate talks in Egypt.

Delegates have also discussed numbers indicating how much greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced in the coming years and how to include man-made or natural carbon removal efforts in the equations.

As the country that has emitted the most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since industrialization, the United States has forcefully rejected the notion of historical responsibility for climate change.


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