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UN climate chief calls for strong outcome as divisions remain at conference

UN climate chief calls for strong outcome as divisions remain at conference

KATOWICE (Rahnuma) The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, on Tuesday urged governments to push for a strong and effective outcome of a major UN climate conference as divisions still remain.

The two-week 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC, which runs until Friday in the southern Polish city of Katowice, aims to adopt the implementation guidelines of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to provide clarity on how to carry out the accord fairly for all participating countries.

“Many political divisions remain. Many issues still must be overcome. But I believe it’s within our grasp to finish the job,” said Espinosa, adding “Let’s complete the Paris Agreement Work Program and, by doing so, immediately unleash the power of the Paris Agreement itself.”

The COP24 runs into the second week of high-level negotiations after the first week of technical talks ended with more than 100 ministers now in Katowice.

Ahead of the COP24, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report on the achievability and implications of a 1.5°Celsius global average temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels, the lower temperature goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, reiterated the key findings of the report in Katowice that the temperature goal is only achievable if governments take urgent and far-reaching action in all aspects of society, with many implications for policy-making.

“Every bit of warming matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters. With this report, the scientific message is clear. It is now up to you, the governments, to act,” he said.

Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, also warned that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions were unsustainable, and were already leading to dramatic climate change impacts around the world, from the melting of Artic ice to many incidents of fires and flooding this year.

“We are expecting a 2 to 4 percent increase in global carbon dioxide emissions this year. If we are serious about the Paris Agreement, we need to see different numbers,” Taalas said.

The secretary-general also pointed out that even if pollution of the atmosphere is stopped today, the current levels of CO2 would stay in the atmosphere for many years to come, locking in extreme weather.

The UN climate conference came as latest reports show that climate challenges remain undeterred and global carbon emissions are set to hit an all-time high in 2018.

According to a report released last week by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project, global carbon emissions are expected to rise by more than 2 percent from last year to 37.1 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2018, driven by a solid growth in coal use and sustained growth in oil and gas use.

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