The Challenges Ahead

U.N. climate talks head into a tense final week Monday after the diplomatic effort to reduce global warming gases was hit by a series of setbacks. Despite a tearful call for action from a delegate from the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, no major carbon polluter raised their pledges to cut emissions. Instead, Australia's conservative government fulfilled a campaign promise and introduced a bill to scrap the country's carbon tax, while Japan drastically scaled back its emissions target. But despite the rain and cold weather, tens of thousands of Australians attended climate change rallies across the country to urge Prime Minister Tony Abbott to retain the carbon tax. The Australian Labor Party and Greens politicians, together with environmental groups and volunteer firefighters took turns to criticize the Coalition government at the Climate Action Day, one of the largest rallies in support of climate change action.

"After one week, the world governments continue to disappoint their citizens who are fighting against catastrophic climate change and its devastating impacts," said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace. Climate activists are expected to stage protests Monday when a high-profile coal industry summit kicks off at Poland's Economy Ministry. Coal is a major contributor to CO2 emissions and activists are outraged that coal-reliant Poland is presiding over the coal event at the same time as the U.N. climate conference. Several U.N. reports have warned that the world is running out of time to rein in emissions enough to avoid the most dangerous effects of warming. Still, the talks have been bogged down by disputes between rich and poor countries over emissions cuts and climate aid to help poor countries convert to cleaner energy sources and adapt to a shifting climate.

 

Pointing to the typhoon damage in the Philippines, small island states and other vulnerable nations are also asking for a mechanism for compensation for the damage resulting from climate impacts such as rising seas.


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