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Climate action must not be delayed by global crises, UN talks told

By AFP - Jun 07,2022 - Last updated at Jun 07,2022

PARIS — Negotiators from almost 200 countries met in Germany on Monday for climate talks tasked with reigniting momentum on tackling global warming, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine overshadows the threat from rising emissions.

The conference will set the stage for a fresh round of major United Nations talks later this year in Egypt.

It will also be a chance to test the resolve of nations facing a catalogue of crises, including escalating climate impacts, geopolitical tensions, bloodshed in Ukraine and the threat of a devastating global food crisis.

Issuing a call for international unity to hold firm, outgoing UN climate change chief Patricia Espinosa told delegates it was “not acceptable to say that we are in challenging times”.

“We must understand that climate change is moving exponentially. We can no longer afford to make just incremental progress,” she said at the opening of the June 6 to 16 meeting.

“We must move these negotiations along more quickly. The world expects it.”

Governments have already accepted that climate change is a grave threat to humanity and the planet, and have advocated immediate action to cut fossil fuel emissions and prepare for the accelerating impacts of warming.

The summary to this year’s landmark climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that any further delay in action “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”.

But as things are going, the world is unlikely to be able to meet the Paris climate deal’s commitment to limit warming “well below” 2ºC above pre-industrial levels.

“There is this disconnect between the scientific evidence of global crisis in the making, of potentially rushing towards unmanageable climate impact, versus the lack of action,” Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told AFP.

“This is a deep worry.”

The world has warmed nearly 1.2ºC so far — enough to usher in a crescendo of deadly heatwaves, floods and storm surges made worse by rising seas.

While the conference in the German city of Bonn is largely aimed at preparing for the UN COP27 meeting in Sharm Al Sheikh in November, there are a number of key issues up for debate.

That includes a push for countries to speed up their timetable for updating their carbon-cutting plans, to more quickly align actions on reducing emissions with the agreed goals for limiting global warming.

A particular focus will also be funding from rich polluters to help vulnerable developing nations least responsible for global heating.

A promise of $100 billion a year from 2020 to help them adapt to a warming world has still not been met.

Meanwhile, there are growing calls for “loss and damage” funding for countries already struck by devastating climate impacts, with a specific dialogue on the subject slated for this week.

The Alliance of Small Island States has warned that the Bonn conference must not be “just another talk shop”, calling for a “clear view” on when and how this financing will be put in place.

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