The negotiations will take place against a background of ominous news: the past four years have been the hottest on record and global emissions were rising again, when they need to fall by half by 2030. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C scientists advise, according to the UN.
The political backdrop contains challenges as well, with climate change denial from the US president, Donald Trump, and attacks on the UN processfrom Brazil’s incoming Bolsonaro administration. The hosting of the summit by a coal-friendly Polish government further worries some observers. But the EU’s new intention to become climate neutral and the plummeting cost of renewable energy have been positives, while a year of extreme weather was anticipated to focus minds.
“We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change, but we are also the first generation with its consequences,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the CEO of the World Bank. The bank announced on Monday that its record $100bn (£78bn) of climate funding from 2021-2025 would for the first time be split equally between projects to cut emissions and those protecting people from the floods, storms and droughts that global warming is making worse.
In recent years, just 5% of global funding has gone on protection, but 2018 has seen climate impacts hit hard, with heatwaves and wildfires in Europeand California and huge floods in India, Japan and east Africa. “We are already seeing the devastating impact of climate change,” Georgieva told the Guardian. “We strongly believe that action ought to go both on mitigation and on adaptation.”
“Climate extremes are the new normal,” said Prof Patrick Verkooijen, the CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, in the Netherlands. “The climate debate can no longer only be about the causes – it also needs to focus on how billions of people at risk can rapidly adapt.
Rich nations have promised $100bn a year by 2020 to help poorer countries adapt to climate change and develop clean energy. Negotiators in Poland would have to bring the two blocs together with firm agreement on how the promise would be fulfilled.
Gebru Jember Endalew, the chair of the 47-strong Least Developed Countries Group, said: “We represent almost one billion people, the people who are least responsible for climate change but among those most vulnerable to its effects. The longer poor countries have to wait [for funding], the larger the cost will become.”
The negotiators in Poland must also produce a rulebook governing how action pledged under the Paris agreement was tracked and reported to ensure all nations play their part.
“Fair and effective rules for accounting must be established, with special responsibilities for the big emitters such as the US and Europe but also China and India,” said Prof Johan Rockström, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “While defining a rulebook sounds boring, it is in fact essential.”
The role of the Polish hosts will be crucial and the deputy energy minister Michał Kurtyka has said it would focus on using forests to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, electric vehicles and ensuring workers in fossil fuel industries were helped into new jobs.
Poland generates 80% of its electricity from coal and the UN summit will take place in a coal mining town, Katowice. The Polish government has also allowed two coal companies to sponsor the summit.
“Having major coal companies as climate summit sponsors sends the worst possible signal at the worst possible time,” said Robert Cyglicki, Greenpeace’s director in Central and Eastern Europe. “It would be like Philip Morris sponsoring a health summit where a cigarette ban is supposed to be agreed. We will know this was a successful summit if coal companies regret sponsoring it.”
Many nations remain firmly committed to climate action, particularly France and China. But the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned last weekthat the rise of populism was undermining the political will of some countries to work with others. “We have more and more nationalist approaches being popular and winning elections,” he said. “This has led in my opinion to a lack of political will.”
“Every day, we witness the effects of the changing climate on poor and vulnerable people around the world,” said Adriana Opromolla, at NGO Caritas Internationalis. “Transformation is possible, but political will is needed to make it happen.”
This article first appeared on the Guardian
edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network
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There seems, upon viewing the technical qualifications of a number of the speakers, that basic knowledge of climate science is somewhat lacking among the advocates of the disaster scenario.
Let us quote from a little science, a study of the influence of the variation of solar radiation upon the Earth. It is, after all, our only natural source of heat and light, we just do not compete,
DR WILLIE SOON
By Dr. Jeffrey Foss
December 2, 2018
Willie just happened to choose solar science as a career and, like many solar scientists, after nearly three decades of scientific research in his case, came to believe that changes in the sun’s brightness, sunspots and energy output, changes in the orbital position of the Earth relative to the sun, and other powerful natural forces drive climate change. In brief, our sun controls our climate.
Even the IPCC initially indicated agreement with him, citing his work approvingly in its second (1996) and third (2001) Assessment Reports. That later changed, significantly. Sure, everyone agrees that the sun caused the waxing and waning of the ice ages, just as solar scientists say. However, the sun had to be played down if carbon dioxide (CO2) was to be played up – an abuse of science that makes Willie sick.
Unfortunately for the IPCC, solar scientists think solar changes also explain Earth’s most recent warming period which, they point out, began way back in the 1830s – long before we burned enough fossil fuels to make any difference. They also observed the shrinking of the Martian ice-caps in the 1990s, and their return in the last few years – in perfect time with the waning and waxing of Arctic ice caps here on Earth.
Only the sun – not the CO2 from our fires – could cause that Earth-Mars synchronicity. And surely it is no mere coincidence that a grand maximum in solar brightness (Total Solar Irradiance or TSI) took place in the 1990s as both planets’ ice caps shrank, or that the sun cooled (TSI decreased) as both planets’ ice caps grew once again. All that brings us back to Dr. Soon’s disagreements with the IPCC.
The IPCC now insists that solar variability is so tiny that they can just ignore it, and proclaim CO2 emissions as the driving force behind climate change. But solar researchers long ago discovered unexpected variability in the sun’s brightness – variability that is confirmed in other stars of the sun’s type. Why does the IPCC ignore these facts? …
It sure looks like the IPCC is hiding the best findings of solar science so that it can trumpet the decreases in planetary warming (the so-called "greenhouse effect") that they embed in the "scenarios" (as they call them) emanating from their computer models. Ignoring the increase in solar brightness over the 80s and 90s, they instead enthusiastically blame the warmth of the 1990s on human production of CO2. …
Surely Willie and solar scientists are right about the primacy of the sun. Why? Because the observable real world is the final test of science. And the data – actual evidence – shows that global temperatures follow changes in solar brightness on all time-scales, from decades to millions of years. On the other hand, CO2 and temperature have generally gone their own separate ways on these time scales.
Global temperatures stopped going up in the first two decades of this century, even though CO2 has steadily risen. The IPCC blames this global warming "hiatus" on "natural climate variability," meaning something random, something not included in their models, something the IPCC didn’t see coming. …
Unlike the IPCC, Willie and I cannot simply ignore the fact that there were multiple ice ages millions of years ago, when CO2 levels were four times higher than now. And even when CO2 and temperature do trend in tandem, as in the famous gigantic graph in Al Gore’s movie, the CO2 rises followed temperature increases by a few centuries. That means rising CO2 could not possibly have caused the temperature increases – an inconvenient truth that Gore doesn’t care about and studiously ignores.
DR WILLIE SOON
Time for a little science, and less alarmism.