'Window is narrowing': scientists urge action at UN climate talks

(11 Dec 2018) Gilet jaunes protests cast shadow as concerns raised over backlash against rapid change.

Scientists have laid down the gauntlet for political leaders as the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, wrestles with the challenge of cutting emissions without sparking social tensions like those seen recently in France.

The UN climate talks – known as COP24 and the most important since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015 – aim to set a new rulebook for governments to reduce greenhouse gases and to raise ambitions, after warnings of dire consequences if global warming rises more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The climate crisis is already here and the risks are growing, said Hoesung Lee, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who led a study by thousands of scientists on ways to avoid 1.5C of warming via accelerated transition from fossil fuels.

“The IPCC made a tremendous collective effort to bring you the best scientific knowledge on the subject. We tell you limiting warming to 1.5C is possible but the window is narrowing,” Lee told a plenary on Tuesday. “The scientific community has delivered, now it is up to governments to take action.”

There has been fierce debate about what to do with the study. All but four of the world’s governments want to formally welcome the 1.5C report to spur a more ambitious shift towards renewable energy. However, four oil producing nations – the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – said the study should merely be “noted”.

External link

, 11 Dec 2018: 'Window is narrowing': scientists urge action at UN climate talks