Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - World is ‘way off course on climate’



World is ‘way off course on climate’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres delivers a speech on the opening of the COP24 summit on climate change on Monday. AFP

World is ‘way off course on climate’

The world is “way off course” in its plan to prevent catastrophic climate change, the UN warned on Monday as nations gathered in Poland to chart a way for mankind to avert runaway global warming.

After a string of damning scientific reports showing humanity must drastically slash its greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres told delegates at the opening of a UN climate summit: “We are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough.”

Monday was to see leaders from at-risk nations such as Fiji, Nigeria and Nepal plead their case at the COP24 climate talks, which aim to flesh out the promises agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

But host Poland – heavily reliant on energy from coal – will push its own agenda: a “just transition” from fossil fuels that critics say could allow it to continue polluting for decades.

Nor are any of the world’s largest emitters represented at the highest level in Poland.

The Paris agreement saw nations agree to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and under 1.5C if possible.

Officials from nearly 200 countries now have two weeks to finalise how those goals work in practice, even as science suggests the pace of climate change is rapidly outstripping mankind’s response.

One of the key disputes is finance.

Under Paris, richer nations – responsible for the majority of historic greenhouse gas emissions – are expected to contribute funding that developing nations can access to make their economies greener.

But US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord has dented trust among vulnerable nations, who fear there is not enough cash available to help them adapt to our heating planet.

The World Bank on Monday announced $200 billion in climate action investment for 2021-25 – a major shot in the arm for green initiatives but one which needs bolstering by state-provided funding.

The background to Monday’s summit could hardly have been bleaker – with just one Celsius of warming so far, Earth is bombarded with raging wildfires, widespread crop failures and super-storms exacerbated by rising sea levels.

“Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” Guterres said.

The UN’s own expert climate panel in October issued its starkest warning to date. To have any hope of reaching the 1.5C goal by the end of the century, it said fossil fuel emissions must be halved by 2030.

Poland is one of many nations heavily reliant on coal and wants this round of talks to reflect the role fossil fuels play in its economy.

It was to on Monday unveil a declaration calling on states to “recognise the challenges faced by sectors, cities and regions in transition from fossil fuels . . . and the importance to ensure a decent future for workers impacted by the transition.”

‘Dirty development path’

Mohamed Adow, climate lead for the Christian Aid charity, said richer nations needed to stump up the cash to allow developing countries to make the leap to renewables.

“Trudging along the dirty development path trod by richer countries will see developing nations stuck in the past and pollute their environments while ruining efforts to limit global warming,” he said.

For some nations, the time to adapt to the effects of climate change is already here.

Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji and president of last year’s COP, said developed nations must act now to save the planet.

“Or, God forbid, [we] ignore the irrefutable evidence and become the generation that betrayed humanity,” he said.

Guterres called on richer nations to increase their funding for the climate fight.

He said developed states had a “collective responsibility to assist the most vulnerable communities and countries – such as small island nations and the least developed countries – by supporting adaptation and resilience.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants