Climate pact goes live, turning up heat at UN talks


Paris,—Just days after the landmark Paris climate pact comes into force Friday, diplomats from 196 nations gathering in Marrakesh will face intense pressure to translate its planet-saving promise into action.
The agreement “will now be the instrument on which our future depends,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
That’s a daunting responsibility, even if the UN talks are still riding the political momentum that carried the deal—decades in the making—across the ratification finish line in record time. Greenhouse gas emissions—which are pushing the planet into the red zone of dangerous warming—continue to climb, putting newly ambitious goals for capping rising temperatures potentially out of reach.
Even if all national carbon-cutting pledges joined to the Paris pact are kept, Earth will heat up some 3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by century’s end, a recipe for climate devastation, according to a UN Environment Programme report released Thursday.
Discussions on how to disburse $100 billion (90 billion euros) a year to poor, climate-vulnerable nations remain contentious, even as a major report estimates that the level of annual investment needed over the next 15 years in developing nations is 20 to 30 times that amount.
And hanging over the whole proceedings is the shadow of climate change denier Donald Trump, whose improbable run at the White House is gathering momentum in the campaign’s final days.
“The US presidential election will loom large over the COP,” said Liz Gallagher, senior advisor at climate thinktank E3G, using the acronym for the annual Conference of the Parties climate meet. A Trump victory, most analysts agree, could cripple the Paris deal, which the Republican candidate has said he would “cancel”.
A victory by his opponent Hillary Clinton—a vocal proponent of action on climate change—would surely trigger a huge, collective sigh of relief on Day Two of the 12-day conference, allowing the 15,000 attendees to get on with business.
After the dramatic breakthrough in Paris last December, diplomats and experts are lowering expectations a year later. “This is a catalytic COP, not a huge leap forward,” said Alden Meyer, a veteran climate analyst with the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists.
For Laurence Tubiana, France’s top climate negotiator for the Paris talks, “what is mainly at stake is setting a date for finishing the rulebook,” she told AFP.
Sweeping in scope, the Paris Agreement left more than 100 thorny issues to be worked out in nitty-gritty negotiations, from accounting methods for tracking cuts in CO2 emissions, to transparency in financing, to how to assess compensation for “loss and damages” from climate impacts.—AFP

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