LE BOURGET, France – The latest news from the U.N. climate conference in Paris, which runs through Dec. 11.
India and Brazil are resisting attempts to introduce a long-term goal on reducing global carbon emissions in the climate deal being negotiated in Paris.
Negotiators from both countries said Wednesday they favour sticking to the already established goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial temperatures.
That target was formally introduced in the U.N. talks in 2010. But many countries are now calling for a road map on how to achieve it, such as a joint target for phasing out the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
The Group of Seven wealthy countries earlier this year endorsed a “decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century.” The term is generally understood to mean sharp reductions of carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, but it hasn’t been defined precisely.
Brazil’s lead negotiator Antonio Marcondes told The Associated Press that there was no need to come up with a new joint climate goal.
“The long-term goal is already there: It’s 2 degree Celsius,” he said.
United States climate negotiator Todd Stern has told representatives of other countries that they don’t need to worry about Republican efforts to repeal regulations to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.
Stern said Wednesday he’s told other negotiators such efforts “will ultimately not prevail,” because President Barack Obama won’t sign the Republican resolution repealing the major emissions cutting requirement.
In his first press briefing of the climate talks, Stern followed other officials’ script, emphasizing how world leaders meeting in Paris on Monday provided momentum for negotiations.
Stern said the United States looks favourably on the idea of India cutting carbon emissions from coal power with more financial aid to build up renewable energy.
“We certainly want to work with our Indian partners to encourage what they want to do and will do our best to realize that,” Stern said.
World Health Organization officials say their studies show that by the year 2030 as many as 250,000 people a year could die because of global warming.
In a press briefing at Paris climate talks, WHO officials emphasized the deadliness of climate change by re-releasing a study they published last year that said if carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise the number of global warming related deaths would jump from about 150,000 now to nearly a quarter of a million.
The report calculates 95,000 child malnutrition deaths connected to climate change, 60,000 additional malaria deaths, 48,000 extra diarrhea deaths and 38,000 from heat exposure.
U.S. White House science adviser John Holdren and others have in the past questioned the accuracy of WHO climate death estimates. But WHO climate change and health team leader Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum defended them, saying they were “highly conservative.”
WHO public health director Maria Neira said in the past there were only a few mentions of human health in climate deals, but this year’s negotiations seems to have more discussions about preventing climate related deaths.
An agreement to slow or stop global warming “would probably be the most important public health agreement ever,” Neira said.
An Indian delegate at U.N. climate talks says India will be able cut back on its carbon emissions if money is made available to boost renewable energy in an envisioned climate agreement in Paris.
“The quick answer is yes,” Ajay Mathur, the director of India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency, told reporters.
India’s negotiators want to make sure that any deal in Paris doesn’t restrict India’s ability to expand its economy and electricity access to about 300 million people who currently have none. That means it’s hard for India to abandon coal power, a key source of carbon emissions that currently accounts for about 60 per cent of its power capacity.
But asked whether India would cut back on coal if the Paris agreement ensures it receives international support that brings down the cost of expanding renewable energy, Mathur said: “Absolutely.”
“Solar and wind is our first commitment. Hydro, nuclear, all of these non-carbon sources are what we will develop to the largest extent we can,” he said. “What cannot be met by these would be met by coal.”
The head of international climate summit says the climate talks are off to “a good start” thanks to 150 world leaders who came to Paris on Monday, but now negotiations have to speed up.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, president of the climate talks, says “there’s very strong momentum” but that’s not enough. He says negotiators need to get another draft to him by noon Saturday.
He says “we must speed the process up because we have much work to do … compromise solutions must be found as soon as possible.”
He said in all likelihood climate justice “will be the key of the climate agreement.”
Basic staples and traditional dishes around the world are under threat from climate change, the International Fund for Agricultural Development says. They’re handing out recipe cards at the Paris climate conference to illustrate the problem and how to solve it.
Rice and beans in Guatemala are harder to grow because of hotter temperatures and more extreme weather, which IFAD says can be countered with investment in better crop storage and water storage.
The ingredients for Moroccan lamb tagine are threatened by the encroaching Sahara desert, which makes it harder to grow the vegetables and reduces grasslands for sheep grazing. So IFAD is recommending crop diversification and more water-efficient vegetable farming.
In Senegal, rising sea levels and rising salt levels in farmland are making it harder to produce fruit, vegetables and poultry for traditional lemon chicken. The proposed solution: building dikes and “washing” the salty soil.
Droughts, floods, expanding deserts, increasing salination — many of the problems caused by man-made climate change have to do with water. So a group of local governments, companies and organizations are announcing plans to better manage the water the planet has left.
The coalition announced an international pact Wednesday at the Paris climate conference. They said in a statement they are hoping to raise up to $1 billion in investment.
Among the projects they announced: cleaning up groundwater in India, better irrigation in Morocco, helping people in South American river basins adapt to droughts and floods, and better weather and water monitoring for 160 million people living around the Congo River basin.
The head of the World Food Program is warning that hunger linked to climate change may worsen mass migrations, and is hoping for an ambitious international accord to slow global warming.
Ertharin Cousin told The Associated Press that people “will move if they don’t have enough to eat.” Speaking Wednesday at the climate talks in Paris, she says “food insecurity anywhere is a security challenge everywhere.”
Cousin says the U.N. food agency cannot fulfil its promises to eradicate hunger without a global climate accord, and investment in preventive measures such as drought-resistant seeds and water-conserving agriculture.
Man-made global warming is causing worsening droughts and floods that are threatening traditional food sources, she said — especially in the poorest countries, where hunger is already a top problem.