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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

At-risk nations to make case at UN climate summit

Talks aim to finalise agreements made in Paris climate accord three years ago

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General delivers a speech during the opening of the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland. AFP
Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General delivers a speech during the opening of the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland. AFP

Nations under threat from the planet's rising temperatures are expected to demand that richer countries pay their fair share in the fight against climate change.

The presidents of at-risk states such as Fiji, Nigeria and Bangladesh will attend the two-week COP24 talks set to begin on Monday, but host Poland — heavily reliant on energy from coal — is expected to push its own agenda: a "just transition" from fossil fuels that critics say could allow it to continue polluting for decades.

The talks aim to finalise the promises agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accord. Under the accord, richer nations — responsible for the majority of historic greenhouse gas emissions — are expected to contribute funding that developing nations can access to make their economies greener. Nations also agreed to limit global temperature rises to below two degrees Celsius and under 1.5C if possible.

In June last year, President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement leaving at-risk nations feeling financially vulnerable.

On Sunday, tens of thousands gathered in Brussels to urge governments to stick to their climate change commitments. The protest followed similar ones in the German cities of Cologne and Berlin.

The World Bank on Monday announced $200 billion in investment on action to control warming for 2021 to 25 — a major shot in the arm for green initiatives but one which needs bolstering by state-provided funding.

The background to Monday's summit could hardly be bleaker. With just one Celsius of warming so far, Earth is bombarded with raging wildfires, widespread crop failures and super-storms exacerbated by rising sea levels.

"A failure to act now risks pushing us beyond a point of no return with catastrophic consequences for life as we know it," said Amjad Abdulla, chief negotiator at the COP24 for the Alliance of Small Island States.

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