By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP science writer
Pressure continues to mount on increasingly anxious world leaders to step up efforts to tackle climate change. There are more to come this week at one of the most prestigious forums of all – the United Nations.
For the second time in four days, this time away from UN headquarters in New York, leaders will hear calls to further reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and give poorer countries more money to develop. cleaner energy and adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change.
“I am not desperate, but I am extremely worried,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told The Associated Press in a weekend interview. âWe are on the brink and we cannot afford to take a step in the wrong direction. “
So, on Monday, Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are holding a closed-door session with 35 to 40 world leaders to get countries to do more ahead of the massive climate talks in Scotland in six weeks. These negotiations in the fall are designed to be the next step after the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
And it all comes after Friday, when US President Joe Biden convened a private climate forum to urge leaders to act now.
“We’re quickly running out of time,” Guterres said during the Biden forum. “There is a high risk of failure” of the negotiations in Glasgow.
This week’s focus on climate change comes at the end of another summer of extreme weather-related disasters, including devastating wildfires in the western United States, deadly flooding in the United States , in China and Europe, a drumbeat of deadly tropical cyclones around the world and unprecedented heat waves everywhere.
Achieving some success in emission reduction pledges or financial aid during the week of UN sessions would ease the way for a deal in Glasgow, just as the first pollution reduction announcements did in 2015, especially those from China and the United States, according to experts. noted. Now these two nations are essential again. But, said Guterres, their relationship is “totally dysfunctional.”
Nigel Purvis, former US State Department climate negotiator and CEO of private company Climate Advisers, said political forces heading to Glasgow do not appear as optimistic as they were four months ago after a virtual climate summit in Biden.
But, he said, there is still hope. Countries like China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, must step up their Paris commitments to reduce carbon pollution, while rich countries like the United States that have increased their emissions pledges must do more financially to help the poorest countries.
“The Glasgow meeting is not shaping up to be as well prepared politically as the Paris conference in 2015,” Purvis said. And Pete Ogden, vice president of the United Nations Energy and Climate Foundation, cited “a worrying distrust among nations at a time when greater solidarity is needed.”
As world leaders gather, activists, other government leaders and business leaders gather in New York City for Climate Week, a giant cheerleader for action session that coincides with the high-level meeting of the United Nations. And throughout the week, the pressure is on the rich countries, the G-20, to do more.
âIt is true that the G-20 countries bear most of the responsibility for carbon emissions. And in this regard, of course, it is absolutely crucial that we see them accelerate their actions in a very significant way, âsaid the head of the United Nations climate conference, Patricia Espinosa on Friday, as her agency announced that the Broadcasts pledges for the Scotland conference were well below targets. Parisian goals.
The most stringent seeks to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. This translates to around 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) from now on due to the warming that has already occurred.
A UN report released on Friday showed that current commitments to reduce carbon emissions put the world on track for 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) warming since the pre-industrial era. It exceeds even Paris’ weakest target of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
âIt’s catastrophic,â Guterres said in the interview. âThe world couldn’t live with a 2.7 degree temperature rise. “
The overall goal is to have ânet zeroâ carbon emissions by the middle of the 21st century. It refers to a time when global economies are releasing the same amount of carbon dioxide into the air that plants and oceans remove, without thereby contributing to global warming.
Guterres is pushing for rich countries to meet their long-standing commitments of $ 100 billion a year in climate assistance to poor countries, at least half of which will help them cope with the impacts of global warming. So far, the world is losing around $ 75 billion a year, according to a new Oxfam study. Funding to deal with the impacts of climate change fell by 25% last year for small island states, “the most vulnerable of the vulnerable,” he said.
Under the Paris agreement, every five years, the nations of the world must offer even stricter emission cuts and more funding for the poorest nations in order to develop cleaner energy systems and to develop their own energy systems. adapt to climate change.
As leaders gather for UN meetings, activists, business leaders and lower-level government officials will be cheerleaders in a series of ‘climate week’ events . The planners include big companies announcing billions of dollars in climate change commitments, many speeches from big names like Bill Gates on climate solutions, and even the seven late-season American talk show hosts. evening focusing on climate change Wednesday evening.
âYou have the world leaders there, so you can remind them of the climate and get them to focus on it,â said Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, which coordinates climate week.
What matters most is what happens in six weeks in Glasgow, says Jonathan Overpeck, Dean of Environment at the University of Michigan, “But,” he said, “the more you can get. agreeing early, the easier it will be to secure the commitments needed to end climate change …. We are not yet on a path of reducing emissions that is safe for our planet and its people. “
The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report. Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at http://twitter.com/borenbears and read more of AP’s climate coverage at http://www.apnews.com/Climate
Copyright 2021 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.