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WARNING ON IRREVERSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

UN science panel chief calls for more action to curb warming

/ 05:38 AM December 13, 2018

KATOWICE, Poland — Governments must do more and act swiftly to prevent global warming on a scale that would cause irreversible environmental damage and hit poor societies hard, the head of the United Nation’s top science panel on climate change said on Tuesday.

Lee Hoesung, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told diplomats at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in this southern Polish city, that scientists had conducted an exhaustive review of data for their recent special report on keeping average global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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Clear message

“Our report shows that political will is key to the implementation of solutions that improve well-being and make it possible to limit global warming to 1.5 C,” Lee said.

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“With this report, the scientific message is clear. It is now up to you, the governments, to act,” he added.

Nations assembled in Paris  in 2015 invited the IPCC to provide a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5 C above preindustrial levels, in time for COP24 this year.

The special report, released in October, examined the differences between warming of 1.5 C and 2 C, with its assessment anchored in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Researchers from 40 countries worked on the report, citing more than 6,000 references and receiving more than 42,000 comments on the study.

The report said that while 1.5 C was a doable target, unprecedented changes were needed to be done urgently to stave off disastrous effects caused by even half a degree of warming, such as stronger typhoons, harsher droughts and extreme heat that could drive millions into poverty.

Speaking to diplomats from nearly 200 countries, Lee summarized the report: “Every bit of warming matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters.”

Urgent action

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He stressed the urgency of the findings: “The report shows that not just action, but urgent action is needed.”

But on the last day of the first week of the climate talks, delegates failed to reach a consensus on whether to “welcome” or “note” the report within the body—the former suggesting a stronger language compared to the latter.

Four major oil-producing countries—the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait—rejected the proposal to welcome the report.

But several countries, including the ones most vulnerable to climate change, strongly expressed their position to fully recognize the report and its findings.

Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman, vice chair of the Climate Change Commission and the Philippines’ lead negotiator, said the country did not merely note the report, but welcomed it.

Ministers are meant to bridge the remaining division between countries by Friday.

Main aims

One of the main aims of the meeting is for officials to finalize the rules of the 2015 Paris accord, including details such as how countries will record and report their emissions.

The talks are also meant to push countries to commit more ambitious targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Poor countries want assurances on financial support to tackle climate change. —With a report from the wires

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TAGS: climate change summit, COP 24, Global warming, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Lee Hoesung
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