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A look at the top issues for this year’s UN climate summit

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This year’s UN climate summit renews an urgent question for the international community: Can the world unite to confront the common enemy of global warming before it is too late?

Talks that start on Sunday in Scotland were still to be tense, but the coronavirus pandemic, the economic crisis that followed and the recent energy crisis put even more pressure on the two-week meeting.

Here are five of the main issues that will need to be addressed in Glasgow:

RICH COUNTRIES owe the poor

The pledge by rich countries to mobilize $ 100 billion each year for poor countries to tackle climate change was likely missed in 2020. Estimates for 2019 show that funding was just under $ 80 billion. dollars.

The failure to keep a promise made for the first time in 2009 has caused deep anger and mistrust among poor countries, with some threatening to block any deal until the money is provided.

There is no fixed formula for how much each country should contribute in total, or how. But the Washington-based World Resources Institute calculated that only a handful of rich countries, including France, Japan, Norway, Germany and Sweden, provided a fair share. The United States, Australia and Canada have come a long way.

One solution offered this week is for payments to average $ 100 billion per year from 2021 to 2025, with the shortfall in previous years being offset by higher payments later.

Developing countries will use the Glasgow talks to push for half the money to be spent on projects to adapt to climate change. Right now, most of the money is spent on reducing emissions.

Poor nations also insist that it is also time to determine who will pay for the damage to habitats and livelihoods caused by rising seas, growing deserts and more extreme weather conditions.

“Our people are suffering in various ways as a result of a crisis which they have done little to provoke,” said Sonam P. Wangdi of Bhutan, who chairs the Least Developed Countries Group in the talks. .

CARBON NEGOTIATION

Some unfinished business from the Paris climate summit in 2015 concern the rules of international carbon trading, seen as a key instrument to harness market forces in the fight against global warming.

Negotiators failed to finalize this part of the Paris settlement in Madrid two years ago. They will make another attempt in Glasgow. On the one hand, there will be countries that want stricter rules to prevent worthless carbon bonds from flooding the market. On the other hand, developing countries will insist that certificates accumulated under previous agreements be honored.

Rules are essential because for many countries and businesses to achieve ‘net’ emissions by mid-century, pollution will need to be offset by an equal amount of carbon reliably captured elsewhere, such as through forests or technological means.

Establishing a truly international carbon market also offers an opportunity to raise funds through transaction fees, but who manages them and how remains unresolved.

ENSURING TRANSPARENCY, COMMITTING TO NEW TARGETS

Transparency is a key part of the talks, as the voluntary nature of the Paris agreement means that countries closely monitor the progress of others before raising their targets a notch.

Another debate concerns the timing of notification of new pollution reduction targets. Current agreements require developed countries to set new targets every five years, but some participants want to move to annual commitments, at least until the world is on track to meet the Paris targets.

METHANE

Methane, the main component of natural gas and a by-product of some agriculture, has been somewhat overlooked in previous negotiations.

As a greenhouse gas, it is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, but only stays in the air for about a decade. Reducing emissions by fixing leaks in gas pipelines and limiting flaring at drilling sites would provide a small but noticeable improvement.

The world cannot solve the climate problem without reducing methane, said Kelly Levin, head of science, data and systems change at Bezos Earth Fund.

45% COMMITMENT

A proposed commitment to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels is not so much a point of negotiation as a target set by the UN for the talks to be considered a success. So far, emissions are increasing and not decreasing.

Halving emissions over the next decade is seen as a key stepping stone on the road to net zero by 2050, which scientists say is the only way to meet the deal’s target of Paris to cap global warming at 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

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Borenstein reported from Washington.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the climate talks at http://apnews.com/hub/climate


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