World leaders face test of climate commitment in 2019

(Climate Change News, 7 Jan 2019) After a technically successful but politically lacklustre climate summit last year, it is time to see which countries will heed scientific warnings and crank up ambition.

As 2019 dawns, it is crunch time for the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Last month’s UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland set (most of) the technical rules of the Paris Agreement, but showed little sign of renewed ambition.

Responding to the latest scientific warnings, Fiji’s prime minister Frank Bainimarama said countries had to increase their current climate pledges fivefold if they wanted to avert climate catastrophe.

UN chief Antonio Guterres presented it as a choice between radical climate action or a “suicidal” path. He called on governments to ramp up their commitments – known in UN-speak as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – to the Paris pact.

Only the tiny Marshall Islands has so far submitted an updated climate pledge to the UN. The coming months will see pressure on big emitters to follow, ahead of a conference to be convened by Guterres in September.

Nobody wants to go it alone, says David Waskow, senior climate policy expert at the World Resources Institute: “Countries like the EU, China and India, as well as others, will be looking to see how to join hands to take this leap together.”

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Climate Change News, 7 Jan 2019: World leaders face test of climate commitment in 2019