UN climate meeting ‘a damp squib’
The recent UN meeting in Madrid was a damp squib and a missed opportunity to make real progress on tackling climate change, said Midlands green energy expert Ron Fox.
“I was hoping for key decisions to be made and new targets to be agreed, but they all seemed to be deferred until next year, which was very disappointing,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park.
More than 190 nations were represented at the fortnight of talks which ended with a formal recognition of the need to bridge the gap between the greenhouse gas targets set in Paris in 2015 and the deeper cuts scientists say are needed now.
At the longest climate talks ever delegates called for greater ambition in cutting planet-heating greenhouse gases and in helping poor countries suffering the effects of climate change. But they put off the big problem of how to deal with the problem of carbon emissions until the annual UN climate conference in November 2020 which Britain will host in Glasgow.
Ron said current targets would put the world on track for an increase of 3 degrees centigrade in the earth’s temperature which scientists say would ravage coastal cities and destroy huge swatches of agriculture across the globe.
Yet, he said, few governments came up with any new target even though they were reminded continually that the pledge was made in Paris to hold global heating to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, regarded by experts as the outer limit of safety.
“However, the talks were characterised by squabbling over technical details with Brazil, Australia, the US, China and other major carbon emitters all accused of holing up progress,” he added.
Small island states repeatedly stressed that the climate crisis was happening now, with sea level rises, fiercer storms, floods and droughts already causing devastation, with extreme weather around the world in recent months adding to signs of a growing emergency.
Research published during the two weeks of talks showed that greenhouse gas emissions have risen 4 per cent since the Paris accord was signed in 2015, and the world will need to cut carbon by more than 7 per cent a year in the next decade to keep in line with scientific advice.
The snail’s pace of the talks was in stark contrast to pleas from activists outside, who staged a 500,000-strong march through the Spanish capital where Greta Thunberg, the Swedish school striker, said the last year of protests had “achieved nothing.”
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was warned in a letter from Lord Deben, who was the former Cabinet minister John Gummer, that Britain needed “to get our own house in order in order on reducing greenhouse gas emissions before next year’s conference.”
The peer, now the chair of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, said that the country’s efforts had so far fallen short of what is needed.
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