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Struggle for science blocks key UN climate report


BERLIN — The publication of a major new UN report on climate change is being delayed by a battle between rich and developing countries over emissions targets and financial aid to vulnerable nations.

The report by hundreds of the world’s top scientists was due to be endorsed by government delegations on Friday at the end of a week-long meeting in the Swiss city of Interlaken.

The deadline was repeatedly extended as officials from major nations including China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and the European Union haggled over the weekend over the formulation of the key phrases of the text.

The report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is meant to cap off a series that digests vast amounts of research on global warming compiled since the Paris climate accord in 2015.

A summary of the report was approved early Sunday, but three sources close to the talks told The Associated Press there is a risk that agreement on the main text may have to be postponed until a later meeting. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of the talks.

The unusual process of getting countries to approve a scientific report is intended to ensure that governments accept its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.

At the start of the meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on delegates to provide “cold, hard facts” to drive home the message that there is little time left for the world to limit global warming. 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times.

While average global temperatures have already risen by 1.1 Celsius since the 19th century, Guterrres insisted that the 1.5 degree target limit remains possible “with rapid and deep reductions in emissions across all climate sectors. the world economy”.

Observers said IPCC meetings are becoming more politicized as the stakes for curbing global warming rise, mirroring the annual UN climate talks that usually take place at the end of the year.

One of the thorniest questions of the current meeting is how to define which nations are considered vulnerable developing countries, making them eligible for money from a “loss and damage” fund agreed in the last negotiations. of the United Nations on the climate in Egypt. Delegates also wrangled over numbers on how much greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut over the next few years and how to include man-made or natural carbon removal efforts in the equations.

As the country that has released the most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since industrialization, the United States has pushed hard against the notion of historical responsibility for climate change.

This story was corrected in the United States, not the United Nations, in the third paragraph.


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