World way off course, UN warns at climate summit

Katowice: The world is “way off course” in its plan to prevent catastrophic climate change, the United Nations warned on Monday as nations gathered in Poland to chart a way for mankind to avert runaway global warming. After a string of damning scientific reports showing humanity must drastically slash its greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates at the opening of a UN climate summit: “We are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough”.

Monday saw leaders from at-risk nations such as Fiji, Nigeria and Nepal plead their case at the COP24 climate talks, which aim to flesh out the promises agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accord. But host Poland — heavily reliant on energy from coal — pushed its own agenda: a “just transition” from fossil fuels that critics say could allow it to continue polluting for decades.

Nor are any of the world’s largest emitters represented at the highest level in Poland. The Paris deal saw nations agree to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and under 1.5C if possible. Officials from nearly 200 countries now have two weeks to finalise how those goals work in practice, even as science suggests the pace of climate change is rapidly outstripping mankind’s response.

One of the key disputes is finance. Under Paris, richer nations — responsible for the majority of historic greenhouse gas emissions — are expected to contribute funding that developing nations can access to make their economies greener. But US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord has dented trust among vulnerable nations, who fear there is not enough cash available to help them adapt to our heating planet. The World Bank on Monday announced $200 billion in climate action investment for 2021-25 — a major shot in the arm for green initiatives but one which needs bolstering by state funding.

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