In what is likely an unsurprising but no less troubling move, the oil alliance between Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and, embarrassingly, the United States has intercepted the adoption of a key finding from the historic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report at the United Nations climate talks—a move that is being chastised by many of the world’s nations as well as climate scientists.
The Guardian Australia reported Sunday that the issue arose over whether the UN climate change conference currently underway in Katowice, Poland should “welcome” or “note” the IPCC’s report on limiting global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid total climate disaster, with the oil allies pushing for the latter and essentially undermining the report’s findings.
The report was commissioned by the climate conference in 2015 and was released in October. The Guardian reported that two and of half hours of debate over wording ultimately led nowhere.
“The apparently minor semantic debate has significant consequences, and the deadlock ensures the debate will spill into the second critical week of negotiations, with key government ministers set to arrive in Katowice,” the Guardian reported. “Most of the world’s countries spoke out in fierce opposition to the oil allies’ position.”
If this infuriates you, you are good company.
“We are really angry and find it atrocious that some countries dismiss the messages and the consequences that we are facing, by not accepting what is unequivocal and not acting upon it,” Yamide Dagnet, a Senior Associate with World Resources Institute’s Collective Climate Action Objective, told the BBC.
Others, like Richard Klein, a Senior Research Fellow and at the Stockholm Environment Institute and a longtime IPCC author, chastised the incident on Twitter.
Here we are at #cop24, trying to save the world, and countries cannot agree on whether they welcome or note the @IPCC_CH Special Report on 1.5C. A report they asked for themselves, and for which many scientists went beyond the call of duty. Thankless. Disgraceful. #SR15 @UNFCCC
— Richard Klein (@rjtklein) December 8, 2018
UN: Could you write us a report on global warming of 1.5C?
IPCC: It will take years of volunteer effort from scientists.
UN: We understand. It's important.
IPCC (3 years later): Here's your report.
UN: Er, right, about that report. https://t.co/5h5kn3M8MZ
— Simon Donner (@simondonner) December 9, 2018
What is so disturbing in our @IPCC_CH #SR15 report (asked by governements at #COP21, and approved by governements at the last IPCC plenary session) that four governments cannot even "welcome" its findings #COP24 @UNFCCC ?
— Val. Masson-Delmotte (@valmasdel) December 9, 2018
The climate change talks have been embroiled in ongoing drama, not the least of which being that a conference intended to be about reducing global carbon dioxide emissions, among other things, is literally being sponsored by coal companies.
“The big challenge now is for the Polish presidency to set aside its obsession with coal, get out of the way and allow full acknowledgement [sic] of the IPCC 1.5C report, and its implications for increasing the ambition of all countries, in the conclusion of COP24 later this week,” Bill Hare, a lead author on previous IPCC reports and the managing director of Climate Analytics, told the Guardian.
As Hare noted, all four of the oil allies are already “being hit by the impacts of only one degree of warming,” making their opposition to “welcoming” the report all the more frustrating.