Climate negotiators from the United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia, on Saturday refused to “welcome” the most influential Climate Science Report.
The Report details the need to limit global warming to 1.5 Degree Celsius to save the world from the worst impact of climate change.
During a plenary session at the on-going 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) at Katowice in Poland, delegates from these four major oil and gas producing countries insisted they would just “note” rather than “welcome” the Scientific Report.
However, the Alliance of Small Island States, the European Union, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African countries, Norway and Argentina insisted and pushed for the delegates to “welcome” the findings.
Switzerland, Nepal, Bhutan, the Marshall Islands, Belize and South Korea, also insisted the delegates should “welcome” the findings.
The report, published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October, among other things, indicate that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying islands and coastal villages in the Arctic.
It, however, made it clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45 per cent by 2030.
At the COP24, the plenary session that preceded a Ministerial Session, which would start on Monday, December 10, was therefore halted by the four countries’ refusal to “welcome” the IPCC Science Report, a move that was fiercely rejected by the poor, developing, small islands states and rich European countries, who kept battling over the two words: “note” and “welcome”.
The USA, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia wanted the final statement to merely “note” the UN Science Report on the effects of 1.5C rise in the global temperature.
But a call that started with the Alliance of Small Island States pushed to “welcome” the findings.
The four countries said it was enough for the members of the UN Climate Convention to just “note” the findings.
However, those who opposed that stance called to change the wording to “welcome” the study, noting that they had earlier commissioned the Report when they reached the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
The push in the plenary to change the wording to “welcome” began with the Maldives, which chairs the Alliance of Small Island States, and was quickly backed by a wide range of countries and groups.
The four opposing countries argued that the change was not necessary, with Saudi Arabia threatening to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the “note” to “welcome,” warning it would disrupt negotiations between ministers next week.
The US, which raised doubts about the science behind the Report before it was even finalised, said it would accept the wording that noted the IPCC’s findings, while emphasising that that “does not imply endorsement” of its contents.
Russia, on the other hand, said: “It is enough just to note it,” while Kuwait said it was happy with the wording as it stood.
Before the plenary, Ms Patricia Espinosa, the UN Climate Chief, had expressed the hope to see countries welcoming and highlighting the importance of the Report.
During the plenary session, the Chair, Paul Watkinson, attempted to find a compromise on the two words but did not succeed.
The delegates from Latin America, Small Islands, Europe, New Zealand, Canada and Africa and among others argued it was not enough to just highlight the work that went into the Report but countries needed to address the findings.
Meanwhile, reports indicates that by failing to reach an agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a ‘political fight’ next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark Scientific Report.
Observers say the major oil producing countries recognise that if the international community takes the Report on board, it would mean a massive change in the use of fossil fuels.
Africa stands firm as UN official tried to finalise a draft of the rules that would propose the rulebook to govern the Paris Agreement.
One African Negotiator said: “You can’t bully Africa, it has 54 countries.”
The 13-day event, being attended by more than 20,000 delegates from 190 countries is on the theme: “Changing together”.
It aims at agreeing to a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.