In a Reversal, the U.S. Won’t Block Climate Compensation for Poor Nations

“Our attitude toward the U.S. was always that it’s good news Biden is in the White House and not Trump, and it’s good news that they have a law for domestic action,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, who advises some of the world’s poorest countries during U.N. climate talks. “But they don’t have good news when it comes to their international commitments on finance.”

The two-week summit, which was scheduled to end Friday, went into overtime Saturday as negotiators from nearly 200 nations clashed over several thorny issues. The talks come at a time of multiple crises. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roiled global food supply and energy markets, stoked inflation and spurred some countries to burn more coal and other alternatives to Russian gas, threatening to undermine climate goals.

At the same time, rising global temperatures have intensified deadly floods in places like Pakistan and Nigeria, as well as fueled record-breaking heat across Europe and Asia. In the Horn of Africa, a third year of severe drought has brought millions to the brink of famine.

One area of concern at the talks is whether nations will strive to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, a goal that nations emphasized at climate talks last year in Glasgow. Beyond that threshold, scientists say, the risk of climate catastrophes increases significantly.

The planet has already warmed by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius, and scientists have said that countries need to cut their carbon emissions more quickly and more significantly to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The world is currently on a trajectory to warm by 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

Every fraction of a degree of additional warming could mean tens of millions more people worldwide exposed to life-threatening heat waves, water shortages and coastal flooding, scientists have found. A 1.5-degree world might still have coral reefs and summer Arctic sea ice, while a 2-degree world most likely would not.

“One point five is not just a number that somebody invented,” Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s minister of climate and environment told the conference on Friday. He spoke about “the paramount difference, the dramatic difference between warming that ends at 1. 5 and 2 degrees.”

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