World leaders will hold closed-door climate meet at UN

The next wave of eradication —climate control

(AFP) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a closed-door meeting of world leaders Monday on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York to boost climate commitments.

The roundtable comes less than six weeks before a major United Nations climate meeting, COP26, in Glasgow, aimed at ensuring the world meets its goal of holding century-end warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“UNGA is the last big moment in the international calendar ahead of COP26,” Britain’s UN ambassador Barbara Woodward said in a statement. “Climate change will be the UK’s top priority.”

Woodward said Britain would press countries to “cut emissions, particularly phasing out coal, and revitalising and protecting nature.”

A senior UN official said Wednesday that over the past two years, leaders had conducted climate discussions at the G7 and G20, but there had not been a forum for leading economies to speak with the hardest-hit countries.

Asked why the meeting was closed-door, he said: “It’s not intended in any fashion to be a meeting in the shadows,” but a way to facilitate frank dialogue “rather than pre-prepared statements or reverting to established positions.”

The meeting will include leaders from the G20, as well as developing and small island nations, and will be partly in-person, partly virtual.

It’s not yet known who or how many will attend, including, crucially, whether the leaders of the world’s top two polluters — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden — will take part.

Guterres has laid out three climate priorities. First, the UN is asking countries to strengthen their commitments to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 under the 2015 Paris agreement.

Second, it wants developed countries to fulfill a promise to raise a $100-billion climate action fund.

Third, it wants a “significant breakthrough” on financing for adaptation projects for hard-hit nations, to protect them against events such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise. The UN wants adaptation finance to account for 50 percent of all climate finance.

Last month, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the Earth’s average global temperature will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels around 2030, a decade earlier than projected three years ago.

With only 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming so far, an unbroken cascade of deadly weather disasters bulked up by climate change swept the world this summer, from asphalt-melting heatwaves in Canada to rainstorms turning China’s city streets into rivers.

This month, record-breaking rainfall from Hurricane Ida devastated New York and New Jersey, killing almost 50 people.

1.5 C warming limit ‘impossible’ without major action: UN
Geneva (AFP) Sept 16, 2021 – A new climate change report out Thursday shows that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will be impossible without immediate, large-scale emissions cuts, the UN chief said.

The United in Science 2021 report, published by a range of UN agencies and scientific partners just weeks before the COP26 climate summit, said climate change and its impacts were accelerating.

And a temporary reduction in carbon emissions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had done nothing to slow the relentless warming, it found.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, struck at the COP21 summit, called for capping global warming at well below 2 C above the pre-industrial level, and ideally closer to 1.5 C.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the report’s findings were “an alarming appraisal of just how far off course we are” in meeting the Paris goals.

“This year has seen fossil fuel emissions bounce back, greenhouse gas concentrations continuing to rise and severe human-enhanced weather events that have affected health, lives and livelihoods on every continent,” he wrote in the report’s foreword.

“Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5 C will be impossible, with catastrophic consequences for people and the planet.”

COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, will be held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

– Pandemic effects –

Fossil greenhouse gas emissions peaked in 2019, shrinking by 5.6 percent in 2020 due to the Covid-19 restrictions and economic slowdown.

But outside aviation and sea transport, global emissions, averaged across the first seven months of 2021, are now at about the same levels as in 2019.

And the report said concentrations of the major greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — continued to increase in 2020 and the first half of 2021.

Overall emissions reductions in 2020 likely shrank the annual increase of the atmospheric concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases, but the effect was “too small to be distinguished from natural variability”, it said.

The global average mean surface temperature for 2017 to 2021 — with this year’s data based on averages up to June — is estimated to be 1.06 C to 1.26 C above pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels, the report said.

The global mean near-surface temperature was meanwhile expected to be at least 1 C over pre-industrial levels in each of the coming five years, with a 40-percent chance it could climb to 1.5 C higher in one of those years, it said.

Guterres said the world had reached a “tipping point”, and the report showed “we really are out of time”.

– Net-zero goal –

The all-time Canadian heat record was broken in June when a high of 49.6 C was recorded in Lytton, British Columbia.

Though the Pacific Northwest 2021 heatwave was a rare or extremely rare event, it would be “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change”, the report said.

As for the severe flooding in Germany in July, the report said with high confidence that human-induced climate change “increased the likelihood and intensity of such an event to occur”.

The report said the increasing number of countries committing to net-zero emission goals was encouraging, with about 63 percent of global emissions now covered by such targets.

But, it said, far greater action was needed by 2030 to keep those targets feasible and credible.

Calling for all countries to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, Guterres said: “I expect all these issues to be addressed, and resolved, at COP26.”

“Our future is at stake.”

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