The US and Russia have thrown climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5C.
After a heated two-and-a-half-hour debate on Saturday night, the backwards step by the four major oil producers shocked delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice as ministers flew in for the final week of high-level discussions.
It has also raised fears among scientists that the US president, Donald Trump, is going from passively withdrawing from climate talks to actively undermining them alongside a coalition of climate deniers.
Two months ago, representatives from the world’s governments hugged after agreeing on the 1.5C report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), commissioned to spell out the dire consequences should that level of warming be exceeded and how it can be avoided.
Reaching a global consensus was a painstaking process involving thousands of scientists sifting through years of research and diplomats working through the night to ensure the wording was acceptable to all nations.
But when it was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on Saturday, the four oil allies – with Saudi Arabia as the most obdurate – rejected a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they said it should merely be “noted”, which would make it much easier for governments to ignore. The motion has not yet been able to pass as a result of the lack of consensus. [Continue reading…]