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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

World leaders intensify rhetoric ahead of international climate talks

Glasgow, Scotland (AP) – World leaders turned the heat and resorted to end-of-the-world rhetoric on Monday in an effort to bring new urgency to spur international climate talks.

The metaphors were dramatic and mixed at the start of the talks, known as COP26. For British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, global warming was “a doomsday” for humanity. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told his colleagues that people are “digging our own graves.” And Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley, speaking for the vulnerable island nations, added to the moral turmoil, warning leaders “not to allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.”

Apocalyptic warnings from all three of those and a few others were followed by more sober – sometimes elaborate – speeches. US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel avoided scathing rhetoric and delved into lewd policy.

Watch: Biden speaks at COP26 climate summit in Glasgow

“Now is not the time to sit back,” Biden said in a more measured warning that also apologized for his predecessor’s temporarily pulling the US out of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, something he said has stymied the country for its efforts. I turned back. “Every day we procrastinate, the cost of inaction adds up.”

In addition to persuading large carbon-polluting countries to promise more drastic emissions cuts, French President Emmanuel Macron said European countries must now move from promises to action.

Earlier, Johnson – who is hosting the summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow – likened the state of Earth to that of fictional secret agent James Bond: bound by a bomb that would destroy the planet and trying to defuse it. Is.

He told the leaders that the only difference now is that the “ticking doomsday device” is not fictional and “it is from one minute to midnight in that doomsday.” The threat now is climate change, posed by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, and he said it all started with James Watt’s coal-powered steam engine in Glasgow.

Johnson also pointed out that the average age of more than 130 world leaders gathered for the UN Climate Conference Leaders’ Summit was over 60, while the generations most harmed by climate change are yet to be born.

The aim of the convention is to commit governments to sharply curb carbon emissions to keep global warming to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above pre-industrial levels. The world has already warmed by 1.1 °C (2 °F). Current estimates based on planned emissions reductions over the next decade are for this to reach 2.7C (4.9F) by the year 2100.

In the coming decades, increasing warming will melt much of the planet’s ice, raise global sea levels and increase the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather, scientists say. They say that with every tenth of summer, the dangers increase exponentially.

Other goals of the meeting are to reach an agreement for rich countries to give $100 billion annually in climate aid to poor countries and for half the money to be spent on mitigating climate impacts.

But the Barbados Motley Fool warned that negotiators were falling short.

“It’s immoral and it’s unjust,” the Motley Fool said. “Have we become so blind and hardened that we can no longer appreciate the call of humanity?”

“We are already gasping for existence,” shouted the President of Seychelles, Wavell John Charles Ramklawan, of another island nation. “Tomorrow is not an option, it will be too late.”

Guterres struck an equally sad note.

“We are digging our own graves,” the UN Secretary-General said. “Our planet is changing before our eyes – from ocean depths to mountains, from melting glaciers to frequent extreme weather events.”

The speech will go on till Tuesday, then the leaders will leave.

The idea is that they will make major political deals, draw up a broad outline of the agreement, and then pass on disturbing but important details to other government officials. Former UN climate secretary Christiana Figueres told the Associated Press that this was what made the historic 2015 Paris climate agreement a success.
“For heads of state, it’s really a better use of their strategic thinking,” Figueres said.

In Paris, two signature targets — a 1.5 degree Celsius limit and net zero carbon emissions by 2050 — were created by this leader-first process, Figueres said. The leaders finally swooped in at the failed 2009 Copenhagen meeting.

Thousands of people queued in the chilly wind in Glasgow on Monday to pass through a bottleneck at the entrance to the venue. But what will be worth noting are some major absences.

President Xi Jinping of China, the top carbon-polluting country, will not be in Glasgow. Figueres said his absence is not such a big deal because he is not leaving the country during the pandemic and that his climate envoy is an experienced negotiator.

However, Biden slammed China and Russia for their less than ambitious efforts to curb emissions and for disappointing statements on climate change at the end of the Group of 20 major economies meeting in Rome later this week. Convicted.

Perhaps more troublesome for the UN summit is the absence of several smaller nations from the Pacific islands that could not make it due to COVID-19 restrictions and logistics. Figueres said it’s a big problem because their voices are concerned with urgency.

In addition, the heads of several major emerging economies beyond China are also leaving Scotland, including Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa. This leaves India’s Narendra Modi as the only leader present among the so-called BRICS countries, which account for more than 40% of global emissions.

Kevin Conrad, a negotiator from Papua New Guinea who chairs the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, said he is looking at large carbon-polluting nations. “I think it’s really important to show leadership for the United States and China as the two biggest emitters. If they can both show that it can be done, I think they give hope to the rest of the world.” are,” he said.

Watch: Britain’s Prince Charles makes statement at COP26 climate summit in Glasgow

But ahead of the UN climate summit, G-20 leaders offered vague climate pledges instead of firm action commitments, saying they would seek carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century”. The countries also agreed to end public financing for coal-fired power generation overseas, but did not set any targets for eliminating coal domestically – an explicit nod to China and India.

G-20 countries represent more than three-quarters of the world’s climate-damaging emissions and summit host Italy, and Britain was hoping for more ambitious targets.

India, the world’s third largest emitter, is yet to follow China, the US and the European Union in setting targets to reach “net zero” emissions. Negotiators are expecting Modi to announce such a target in Glasgow.

But the Biden administration has tried its best to dash the hopes.

Instead of a quick fix, “Glasgow is the start of the race of this decade, if you will,” Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, told reporters on Sunday.

Associated Press writers Jill Lawless, Frank Jordan and Ellen Nickmeyer contributed to this report. Follow the AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate. Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

World Nation News Desk
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