Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

A deal on the rules that govern the Paris climate accord appeared within grasp Saturday, as officials from almost 200 countries worked to bridge remaining differences after two weeks of U.N. talks in Poland.

The 2015 Paris Agreement was a landmark moment in international diplomacy, bringing together governments with vastly different views to tackle the common threat of global warming. But while the accord set a headline target of keeping average global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) — or 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible — much of the fine print was left unfinished.

The meeting in Poland’s southern city of Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases — a key factor in man-made climate change — and the efforts they’re taking to reduce them. Poor countries also wanted assurances on financial support to help them cut emissions, adapt to inevitable changes such as sea level rise and pay for damage that’s already happened.

“We’ve come a long way,” Canada’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, told The Associated Press ahead of a planned plenary meeting Saturday afternoon. “There’s been really late negotiations, there’s been big group negotiations, there’s been shuttle diplomacy all through the night, and now we are coming to the wire.”

WATCH: B.C. reveals plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2040

One major sticking point during the talks was how to create a functioning market in carbon credits. Economists believe an international trading system could be an effective way to drive down emissions and raise large amounts of money for measures to curb global warming.

“We want billions to flow into trillions. And I’m someone who believes that it’s not just about national governments,” McKenna said. “Ultimately the market is going to play a huge role in the cleaner solutions that we need, supporting countries and being efficient and how we do this.”

Emerging economies such as Brazil have pushed back against rich countries’ demands to cancel piles of carbon credits still lingering from a system set up under the 1997 Kyoto accord.

“There are still a range of possible outcomes and Brazil continues to work constructively with other parties to find a workable pathway forward,” said the country’s chief negotiator, Antonio Marcondes.

The talks in Poland took place against a backdrop of increasing concern among scientists that global warming is proceeding faster than governments are responding to it.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that while it’s possible to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times, this will require a dramatic overhaul of the global economy including a shift away from fossil fuels.

Alarmed by efforts to include this in the final text of the meeting, the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked endorsement of the report mid-way through the talks, prompting uproar from vulnerable countries and environmental groups.

While some officials questioned the format of the meeting, which has grown to a huge event with tens of thousands of participants, the head of Greenpeace International, Jennifer Morgan, stressed how important it was to bring all countries of the world together on the issue.

“We need a multilateral process especially for the poorest and smallest countries that don’t go to G-20,” she said, referring to the Group of 20 major and emerging economies that met recently in Argentina. “But the lack of ambition by some rich countries, like the European Union, is worrying, especially as we are staring the 1.5 report in the face.”

Frank Jordans, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Penticton’s choice to host 2021 Centennial Cup well grounded

The strength runs deep throughout the Vees organization and the city in landing Centennial Cup

Okanagan inmate charged in Princeton kidnapping gets second trial extension

Afshin Maleki Ighani said he was unprepared for trial due to issues around a full disclosure package

South Okanaga SPCA receives over $21,000 from Penticton fundraiser

Barry Zarudenec almost single handedly raised over $21,000 for the South Okanagan Similkameen SPCA

Ranchers help grow PRH

Ranching family’s roots recognized through PRH donation

PHOTOS: Kids get big thrill out of Indigo Circus in Penticton

Indigo Circus kicked off 36th season of the Children’s Showcase on Sunday

Charles wows them at iconic South Okanagan venue

Blues musician Michael Charles played to a sold-out crowd at the Dream Café Saturday

Conservative candidate Tracy Gray wins Kelowna-Lake Country

The Canadian Press declared her the winner around 8:30 p.m.

Tories take North Okanagan-Shuswap riding with decisive lead

Incumbent Conservative MP Mel Arnold returns to Ottawa, Liberal Cindy Derkaz a distant second

Conservative Dan Albas wins Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Supporters for candidates gather in West Kelowna to watch election results

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Troll Grandfather bridges gap in Okanagan

Spotlight Kids’ Series show comes to Vernon Sunday

Kelowna council opposes ‘racist’ Quebec secularism bill

The city joins Calgary, Montreal, Victoria, Kitchener and Brampton in condemning the bill

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

Most Read