Climate talks extended as island nations demand action

Frank Jordans
Associated Press

Katowice, Poland – Weary officials from almost 200 countries faced another day of negotiations at the U.N. climate talks to bridge their last remaining differences as small island nations on Friday demanded an ambitious stance against global warming.

The talks in Poland were supposed to end Friday, but Michal Kurtyka, a senior Polish official chairing the negotiations, told delegates to resume talks on a revised draft text at 4 a.m. Saturday (10 p.m. Friday, Detroit time).

The effort was bringing results in the form of preliminary texts for fine tuning, according to Kurtyka’s statement late Friday.

“Polish Presidency informs that a preliminary version of the package implementing the Paris Agreement has been worked out. Several days of intensive work has produced results in the form of closing particular areas,” the statement said.

The text was being consulted upon with various negotiating groups, the statement said.

After two weeks of talks in the southern Polish city, diplomats were coming closer to agreeing on the rules that govern the 2015 Paris climate accord. These include how countries should transparently report both their greenhouse gases emissions and their efforts to reduce them.

Scientists say global emissions need to drop dramatically by 2030 and reach near-zero by 2050 in order to prevent the potentially catastrophic consequences for life on Earth.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that it’s possible to cap global warming at 2.7 degrees higher by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times. That’s the lower end of the 2.7-3.6 degrees scale mentioned in the Paris accord.

But this would require a drastic overhaul of the global economy, including ending the use of almost all fossil fuels.

The United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have refused to “welcome” the IPCC report, angering other countries and environmentalists.

Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed warned that nations such as his, which consider themselves on the front lines of global warming, would veto the current draft because it lacks a clear commitment to the 1.5 C-target.

“If necessary, we will rebel against the negotiations,” Nasheed told reporters.

Another issue haunting negotiators is the rules for an international market in carbon credits.