'The World Is at a Crossroads’: Urgent Climate Talks Begin in Poland as Negotiators Meet a Day Early
Negotiators in the climate talks that will decide the future of the Paris agreement began meeting a day early in Katowice, Poland on Sunday as pressure builds to take meaningful global action against climate change, BBC News reported.
The 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) is the first major international climate meeting since the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued an urgent report that world leaders have only 12 years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent of 2010 levels if they want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Paris agreement set a goal of limiting warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius, and talks over the next two weeks will determine how the countries involved will move towards that goal.
"The world is at a crossroads and decisive action in the next two years will be crucial to tackle these urgent threats," the presidents of the last four UN climate talks warned in a first-of-its kind statement Sunday. "The challenges are there, as are the solutions. We require deep transformations of our economies and societies to build a better world for all. This must be powered by multilateral cooperation."
In a move BBC News called "unprecedented," Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Moroccan politician Salaheddine Mezouar, former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and World Wildlife Fund climate and energy leader Manuel Pulgar Vidal of Peru issued the statement calling on decision makers in Katowice to up ambitious climate action by 2020 in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.
So far, the biggest commitment has come from the World Bank, which announced Monday it was doubling its investments in climate action to $200 billion for 2021 to 2025. The bank is for the first time earmarking $50 billion of that amount towards projects working to adapt to already occurring climate impacts such as drought and flooding.
"We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change, but we are also the first generation with its consequences," World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva told The Guardian.
BREAKING NEWS⟶ @WorldBank releases a new action plan designed to boost climate adaptation and resilience to climate… https://t.co/rot7jbPtNJ— World Bank Climate (@World Bank Climate)1543799235.0
While negotiators met early to get down to brass tacks, the main festivities kicked off Sunday with the arrival of a team of 40 cyclists who biked from Vienna under the banner of "Moving for Climate NOW" to promote renewable energy.
"I commend the cyclists involved in this bike tour for inspiring the world to move in the right direction to fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement," UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad said in a press release. "This is the most important COP since the signing of the agreement, and we need initiatives like yours to testify that governments, the private sector and individuals can work together to tackle climate change by committing to multilateralism."
Overcoming borders and below-zero temperatures, the #4ClimateNOW cycling team arrived today at #COP24 in #Katowice,… https://t.co/r04DkwVbYc— UN Climate Change (@UN Climate Change)1543766797.0
Despite the urgent words of participants, however, there is concern from activists that the talks could be undermined by their location, a coal-mining town in a country that generates 80 percent of its energy from the fossil fuel that the IPCC said must be phased out by 2050 to prevent catastrophic warming. Poland has even allowed two coal companies to sponsor the talks.
"Having major coal companies as climate summit sponsors sends the worst possible signal at the worst possible time," Greenpeace's director in Central and Eastern Europe Robert Cyglicki told The Guardian. "It would be like Philip Morris sponsoring a health summit where a cigarette ban is supposed to be agreed. We will know this was a successful summit if coal companies regret sponsoring it."
At the global #ClimateChange convention our host, Poland, greets us with a shrine of ACTUAL coal 🔥💨🇵🇱 This year th… https://t.co/z7SCa4BRgL— James Ellsmoor 🏝 (@James Ellsmoor 🏝)1543820520.0
Another concern is the role that the U.S. delegates will play. While President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement, he cannot actually do so until 2020, so the U.S. must still participate in talks. U.S. participants have not interfered with the process itself, BBC News reported. But at the last COP event, the White House was criticized for organizing a side event promoting fossil fuels, and reports indicate they will do so again at the Katowice talks.
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>