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Environmentalists warn Katowice summit making no progress

ENVIRONMENTALISTS demanded “new leadership” on climate change today, as campaign groups raised fears the Katowice summit would not propel faster action to address it.

Vanessa Perez-Cirera of the World Wildlife Fund said: "We cannot afford to lose one of the 12 years remaining,” referring to United Nations estimates that global warming could only be contained to within 1.5°C if fossil fuel use is reduced ‘dramatically’ by 2030.

ActionAid’s Harjeet Singh said the United States, Japan and Australia were opposing efforts to reduce emissions while the European Union was “a mere spectator.”

Only China has exceeded its targets, with the energy intensity of its economy dropping by 45 per cent since 2005, meaning it has hit its Copenhagen summit promise three years early, and coal consumption having reduced since 2013, seven years ahead of its projected peak. 

The country is also the world’s largest investor in renewables and fears that it would backtrack on climate commitments because the US under President Donald Trump is doing so were dismissed this week by former US vice-president Al Gore.

“They plan their work and they work their plan,” he told the New York Times. “I would expect [China] to continue on the journey it mapped out regardless of what the US does.”

But even China has only promised to peak emissions by 2030 and the summit has seen dramatic clashes, with the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait declaring that they did not endorse the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, disputing scientists’ conclusions about the scale of the threat.

The panel’s former deputy chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele warned them: “Nobody, not even superpowers, can negotiate with the laws of physics. It’s a question of survival for a large part of humanity and many other species as well.”

President Trump’s international energy and climate adviser Wells Griffith provoked angry demonstrations crying “Shame!” and “Keep it in the ground” after he said reducing fossil fuel use was unrealistic and efforts should be made to “find more efficient ways of developing and burning those fuels.”

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulz tried to use the “gilets jaunes” protests in France as a reason to avoid rapid action, saying any binding targets would alienate the public and “then people pull on yellow jackets.”

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