BERLIN — Nations resumed talks on tackling global warming Monday with the aim of shaping a deal that might put the world on track to prevent a dangerous increase in temperatures, as the U.N.’s top climate official called for deep cuts in fossil fuel use.
Diplomats began two-week negotiations in Bonn, Germany, despite failing to agree on a formal agenda because of differences on the topic of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This issue is at the core of the climate crisis, as burning coal, oil and gas is responsible for the majority warming that has occurred since preindustrial time.
Simon Stiell, who heads the U.N. climate office, told The Associated Press in an interview over the weekend that limiting global warming to 1. 5 degrees Celsius (2. 7 Fahrenheit) will require a phaseout of fossil fuels, something many oil-producing countries have pushed back on.
Environmental campaigners have lamented that this year’s U.N. climate summit will be held in the United Arab Emirates, a major fossil fuel exporter, and presided over by the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. The host country has reacted . to this criticism.
Stiell stated that the leaders meeting in Dubai should be viewed as an opportunity.
“We have a president (for the talks) who has significant experience in the oil and gas sector, in an oil and gas producing nation,” he told reporters in Bonn. “It provides an opportunity to ask some very difficult questions, but also to seek some very difficult but needed answers.”
Asked about calls for curbs on the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists, Stiell said that his office is looking into ways of ensuring greater transparency based on the experience of previous meetings, known in U.N.-speak as Conferences of the Parties, or COPs.
” “Some of these measures could be implemented before the next Conference of Parties (COP) to ensure transparency and integrity in the process,” Stiell said without providing any further details.
Stiell said the failure to adopt an agenda at the start of the technical talks in Bonn was “not desirable, but it’s not uncommon.”
“There will be consultations with parties with regard to the unresolved agenda items. But the important thing is work has started,” he said, adding that he hopes negotiators from almost 200 countries can have a “productive and constructive engagement.”
Asked about the importance of reducing fossil fuel use, Stiell said that “the science is clear.”
“Halving emissions by 2030 and reaching ‘net zero’ by 2050 requires a deep cut and reduction, the phasing out, phasing down of all fossil fuels,” he said.
He praised the sharp increase in renewable energy production ,, with unprecedented levels in investment and deployment in recent years.
“That is one part of the equation”, Stiell stated. “But the other requires those deep cuts in fossil fuel production and consumption, and that we are not seeing.”
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