The Latest: German minister stresses future for coal workers
KATOWICE, Poland (AP) — The Latest on U.N. climate talks in Poland (all times local):
Germany’s environment minister says it’s crucial to offer mining industry workers other options for a transition from coal to energy sources that don’t contribute to global warming to succeed.
Svenja Schulze said at the U.N.’s climate summit in Poland on Tuesday the German government has opened a dialogue with parties affected by phasing out the use of coal. The government plans to set a cut-off date next year.
Schulze stressed that the concerns of people losing jobs should be taken seriously, saying “social dimensions are also important.”
Poland, which is hosting this year’s annual climate talks, also has focused on the human factor while considering cutting back on coal, which supplies 80 percent of the country’s energy.
South Africa and Israel also rely on burning coal as a significant energy source.
The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is returning to this week’s high-level climate talks in Poland to press for a “positive” outcome with new initiatives and greater urgency to tackle global warming.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that Guterres was flying to Katowice Tuesday and has a series of meetings and a speech scheduled on Wednesday.
“You can certainly expect that the secretary-general will do all that he can to encourage the member states in Katowice to move towards a positive outcome,” Haq said.
He said Guterres made very clear in his opening speech in Katowice last week that the world needs to “accelerate the progress in dealing with climate change because we have been moving too slowly.”
Haq said the U.N. and the sports industry launched an effort in Katowice on Tuesday “to drive for emissions reductions of sports operations and engage millions of fans in the efforts.” Among its founding members are the International Olympic Committee, world soccer’s governing body FIFA and the French tennis federation, he said.
The environment minister of the Maldives is taking a stand for the planet — and wants everyone else to do the same.
During his speech at the U.N. climate summit in Poland, Hussain Rasheed Hassan called on officials from other countries to get up off their seats, causing an awkward moment among the participants.
Hassan urged the meeting to “stand for a few moments and think about what will happen if we fail to take actions to save the planet now.”
After some shuffling of feet, delegates rose.
Hassan closed his speech by citing scientific reports that countries have 12 years to keep global warming from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) and avert what he called “an unprecedented human induced catastrophe.”
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The leaders of four Pacific island nations are opening a high-level debate at the U.N. climate talks with a reminder that their countries face catastrophe if global warming isn’t tackled.
Their intervention put pressure Tuesday on ministers and senior officials from around the world to reach agreements on unsolved issues by the end of the week.
Kiribati’s President Taneti Maamau said “the prosperity enjoyed by a few developed countries” had released the majority of greenhouse gases now heating the atmosphere.
Maamau said consequences are being borne by poor countries, “particularly those most vulnerable to climate change like Kiribati.”
His words were echoed by the prime ministers of Tuvalu, Samoa and the Cook Islands, who emphasized the need for financial help to cope with the damage caused by climate change.
Germany is reluctant to host the 2019 U.N. climate talks after Brazil’s incoming right-wing government canceled its offer.
Deputy environment minister Jochen Flasbarth told reporters on the sidelines of this year’s meeting in Poland that Berlin has signaled to the United Nations it’s “not available for an event on the scale of last year.” He cited the increased costs of organizing the meeting at short notice.
Germany hosted the 2017 talks at the U.N. climate office’s headquarters in Bonn for Fiji, which have struggled to organize a meeting for tens of thousands of participants.
The venue for talks rotates among regions and next year it’s the Latin American and Caribbean Group’s turn.
Several of those countries are still mulling a bid, including Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Jamaica and Barbados.
Brazil says it has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1.3 billion tons this year, largely by reducing deforestation and improving land management.
Latin America’s biggest country announced the cuts Tuesday on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks in Poland.
The figures would mean Brazil has met its national commitments to cut greenhouse gases by up to 38 percent before 2020. Some rich countries, such as Germany, have indicated they will miss their emissions goals.
Brazil’s environment minister, Edson Duarte, said the cuts showed “even developing countries facing economic and social challenges can still deliver on their pre-2020 commitments.”
The country’s incoming president, Jair Bolsonaro, has suggested he will not protect Brazil’s vast Amazon rainforest from deforestation after he takes office next month.
Several foreign environmental activists who have been detained or deported by Poland’s Border Guard since the start of the U.N. climate conference in the Polish city of Katowice are criticizing the actions as violations of their democratic rights and an obstruction of their climate-protection work.
Border Guards say a temporary measure put in place for the climate conference bars entry to people who potentially pose a security problem.
But Iryna Stavchuk, the executive director of a Ukrainian group, the Centre for Environmental Initiatives “EcoAction,” said in a statement Tuesday that she has been participating in climate talks as a civil society observer since 2006 “without a single violation.” She said she was denied entry to Poland along with eight other Ukrainian environmentalists for the period of the two-week conference.
Maria Kolesnikova, an activist from Kyrgyzstan, said she will be “deprived of the opportunity to voice my concerns” as investments into the development of alternative energy sources in Kyrgyzstan are decided.
An activist from Georgia with the group 350.org, Nugzar Kokhreidze, said he has been isolated at Katowice International Airport for four days. He said he has been working on climate issues by internet but will fly home on Tuesday.
Scientists are increasingly finding the fingerprints of climate change in droughts, storms and heatwaves.
A review of 102 scientific papers over the past three years, published Tuesday, found 73 concluded that climate change made extreme weather events more intense or likely.
London-based think tank Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit presented its review on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks in Katowice, Poland.
The group’s director, Richard Black, said the strongest link between climate change and weather was found in heatwaves, such as the one in Europe this summer.
Adele Thomas of Berlin-based research group Climate Analytics said scientists’ growing ability to attribute extreme weather to climate change could have important consequences for international discussions about financial compensation for countries suffering loss and damage from man-made global warming.
National leaders and ministers are preparing for the final stretch of U.N. climate talks, with just days left to break through thorny issues that diplomats have struggled to resolve.
U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa urged delegates Tuesday to show a “spirit of unity” through the end of the week.
Almost 200 countries are gathered at the Dec. 2-14 meeting in Katowice, Poland, to finalize the rules of the 2015 Paris accord on curbing global warming.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says governments need to act soon to keep temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).
The talks are also meant to push countries to commit to more ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Poor countries, meanwhile, want assurances on financial support to tackle climate change.