UAE to host next UN climate conference — because the U.S. isn’t coming

The United Arab Emirates’ ruler has announced the country will host the next round of United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at forcing global action to combat climate change. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the…

UAE to host next UN climate conference — because the U.S. isn’t coming

The United Arab Emirates’ ruler has announced the country will host the next round of United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at forcing global action to combat climate change. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister and vice president of the UAE, made the announcement during his inaugural address to the world’s foreign ministers in Abu Dhabi Saturday.

He then returned to what he thought was the most controversial of his opening comments, telling the assembled ministers and diplomats that the leaders of major nations wouldn’t be attending the COP28 climate talks in Katowice, Poland, which begins next week.

“We will be represented in Katowice by 27-28 heads of state and government,” he said. “But not by the ones who caused this crisis.” The holdouts, he said, include Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is not scheduled to be in Katowice; China, because its leaders will be on a long-planned holiday; and the U.S., which has pushed for dialogue on non-binding agreements — which the world would like to see, but not without concrete commitments to change the way businesses and societies operate. In comments to the Chinese delegation in January, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China for failing to commit “to taking any formal action to reduce its own climate pollution,” all but ending hopes of a heads-of-state summit.

By suggesting that global leaders stay away from Katowice, Sheikh Mohammed has gained the support of some governments. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued a statement saying that he “agrees wholeheartedly with the conference’s host, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in his support for countries taking a decision not to attend until they receive credible, legally binding commitments from the rest of the world.”

The United States will have eight months to fine-tune its pre-COP28 position. The next conference comes after a major report released last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said it was “extremely likely” that human activities, not natural variations in the climate, were “very likely” responsible for warming the Earth in the past 50 years. The report also found that an increasing number of weather events attributed to climate change may pose a greater threat to nations than the worst impacts of a warming world. “Our world is facing a historic crisis caused by a combination of human activity and natural variability,” said Patrick Moore, co-chair of a working group of the IPCC. “It is time for governments to build on the IPCC report and commit to action.”

Although Trump has said little on the subject, senior administration officials have signaled strong skepticism of the consensus reports. At a March retreat for foreign policy advisers, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told reporters the administration was looking at supporting an international agreement to cut carbon emissions. “We do not believe that a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing CO2 emissions is the right one for the United States,” he said. “And the president has expressed a desire not to endorse that.”

Read the full story at NPR.

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