The fight for science keeps the UN’s most important climate report alive

The release of a major new United Nations report on climate change has been hampered by a battle between powerful rich and developing countries over emissions targets and financial support for vulnerable nations.

ByFRANK JORDANS Associated Press

BERLIN — The release of a major new United Nations climate change report has been hampered by a battle between rich and developing countries over emissions targets and financial aid to vulnerable nations.

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

The deadline was extended several times as officials from major nations such as China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, as well as UN and European Union officials haggled over the weekend to draft key phrases in the text.

The report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is intended to conclude a series that has consumed the vast amount of research on global warming carried out since the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

A summary of the report was approved early Sunday, but three sources close to the talks told The Associated Press there was a risk that agreement on the main text would have to be delayed until a later meeting. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the discussions.

The unusual process of countries signing up to a scientific report is designed to ensure that governments accept its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.

At the start of the meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked delegates to provide “cold, hard facts” as a message that the world has little time left to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). in pre-industrial times.

While the global average temperature has already risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century, Guterres insisted that the 1.5 degree target remains possible “with rapid and deep emissions reductions in all sectors of the global economy”.

Observers say IPCC meetings have become increasingly politicized as the stakes in curbing global warming rise, mirroring the annual UN climate talks that usually take place at the end of the year.

Among the most sensitive issues at this meeting is how to determine which nations are considered vulnerable developing countries so that they are eligible for cash from the “loss and damage” fund agreed at the last UN climate change talks in Egypt. Delegates also struggled with figures on how much greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced in the coming years and how to factor man-made or natural carbon removal efforts into the equation.

As the largest emitter of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since industrialization, the United States has strongly pushed back on the notion of historical responsibility for climate change.


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