United Nations Climate Change Conference gets underway

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November 11, 2013 (AFP) – Nations launched a new round of talks in Warsaw on Monday to pave the way for a 2015 deal to cut climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

The 12-day United Nations Climate Change Conference comes amid a slew of warnings about potentially disastrous warming unless humankind changes its atmosphere-polluting, fossil-fuel-burning ways.

The UN has set a target of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

The world seeks to reach that goal by curbing emissions of invisible, heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels which provide the backbone of the world’s energy supply today.

This requires a costly switch to cleaner and more efficient energy, which helps to explain why the UN negotiations have been such a battlefield.

Though the stakes are high, no specific targets have been set for this 19th round of the annual talks, hosted by one of the world’s biggest coal polluters just two years before the tortuous global process must deliver a new deal.

Last week, the UN Environment Programme warned the chances of meeting the two-degree goal were “swiftly diminishing”, while the World Meteorological Organisation said atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases hit a new record high in 2012.

In September, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted global surface temperatures could climb on average by as much as 4.8 C (8.6 F) this century — a recipe for catastrophic heatwaves, floods, droughts and sea-level rise.

The Warsaw talks wrap up on November 22 at ministerial level.

Observers hope negotiators will do some legwork for a much-trumpeted deal on emissions cuts due to be signed in Paris in 2015, for implementation five years later.

But the gloves are likely to come off again over help for poor nations to cope with climate change.

Rich economies have yet to show how they intend to meet a pledge, made in 2009, to muster $100 billion per year from 2020.

“The developed world — they have capacity, they have means, they have money to handle this — but you do not,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in Ouagadougou, capital of the impoverished Sahel state of Burkina Faso, last Thursday.

“It is only natural that the developed world provide the necessary funding, necessary technology so that you can address [this] impact, mitigate and adapt to these changing situations.”

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  • mhogan

    Can anyone please use some sanity and give at least credence to Project 50to1? This fear mongering is getting a little tired. Time for people to use some grey matter and think of better alternatives to rising temperatures than pouring money down the drain trying to stop climate change — reasonable efforts, certainly; but how about creating ways for the earth to adapt. Does anyone out there realize that the IPCC has predicted a 3 deg. C increase in global temperature by the end of the century (87 years from now) and that the carbon tax on emissions is expected to result in a mere 5% change in that outcome — 5% — got it? Do the math: that is 1/20,000th of a deg. C over the next 10 years (Australian model of most ambitious carbon emission scheme ever). For that, people, if you were to expand the Australian scheme (the most ambitious ever, remember) to the entire planet through carbon taxes and emission schemes, the international world would have to spend $3.2 QUADRILLION to affect a change in temperature of 1 deg. C. Don’t be fooled: this is all about money — follow the money! No Carbon Trading scheme has to date worked. (But of course, Costa Rica is ahead of the curve and is all knowing). Scientific evidence will show that it is 50 times more expensive to try and stop Climate Change than it is to simply ADAPT to it when and if required. If Man can explore outer space and come up with the inventions, what is so imperceivable that it can mitigate the effects of CC and do so at more effectively at a fraction of the cost?