'We are last generation that can stop climate change' – UN summit

(The Guardian, 3 Dec 2018) Big cuts in carbon emissions and a rise in protection from extreme weather urgently needed.

The UN climate change summit begins on Monday with a warning that today’s generation is the last that can prevent catastrophic global warming, as well as the first to be suffering its impacts.

Almost 200 nations were set to meet in Poland for two weeks, aiming to hammer out a vital agreement to turn the carbon-cutting vision set in Paris in 2015 into reality. Moves to rapidly ramp up action would be another key goal, with current pledges leaving the world on track for a disastrous 3C of warming.

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 process from 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.

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The Guardian, 3 Dec 2018: 'We are last generation that can stop climate change' – UN summit