Experts warn of 'existential risk' at climate conference

Some 56 nations account for 90% of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, scientists said.
Saturday 15/12/2018
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa and UN Special Envoy for the 2019 climate summit Luis Alfonso de Alba at the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018. (Reuters)
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa and UN Special Envoy for the 2019 climate summit Luis Alfonso de Alba at the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018. (Reuters)

CASABLANCA - Hopes of a breakthrough on cutting carbon emissions at climate talks in Poland faded after two weeks of discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24).

Representatives from nearly 200 countries participated in negotiations December 3-14 on how to fulfil promises made at the 2015 Paris agreement that sought to curb global temperature rises.

Climate change is threatening several countries with “extinction” unless urgent action is taken to cut carbon emissions, conference attendees were told.

“We are bearing the torch for those vulnerable to climate change,” said Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine. “We represent a number of nations, like my own, that face extinction. Species of all kinds also face existential risk.”

A group of 48 countries representing less developed nations called on developed countries, which are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions, to foot the bill for the worst affected.

Some 56 nations account for 90% of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, scientists said.

Few countries have invested in renewable energy to limit climate change. Sweden and Morocco topped an annual ranking issued by the NewClimate Institute and Germanwatch.

Julien Jreissati, Arab world campaigner at Greenpeace Mediterranean, said Morocco led in renewable energy because it realised that the only way for the country to become energy independent was to invest in renewable energy and phase out fossil fuels imports.

“It is of utmost importance for the country as renewable energy will not only decrease the economic burden of fossil fuel imports but it will also create job opportunities, a cleaner environment and healthier population," said Jreissati.

Morocco set a renewable energy target of 52% of installed energy by 2030.

“We believe this to be the first step towards a transition to 100% renewable energy that should happen by 2050 to be in line with the Paris agreement's goal of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2C and aim for 1.5C. And we count on Morocco to be the leader in the region in the shift to solar energy, to become an example to other Arab countries,” Jreissati said.