The Latest: UN chief disappointed by climate action so far

MADRID (AP) — The Latest on the COP25 climate summit in Madrid (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

The head of the United Nations says he’s “disappointed” with pledges made so far by the world’s bigger greenhouse gas emitters to reduce their contribution to the planet’s rising temperatures.

But the European Union’s initiative of a “green pact” could make the bloc of 28 countries a world champion to push other big polluters in the same direction, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres told The Associated Press on the first of 12 days of talks in Madrid aimed at increasing action against climate change.

“I’m convinced that Europe will be in a position to negotiate with China, with India, with the United States, with Russia in a way that will allow all to understand that this must be a collective effort and that they all will have to correct their policies in order to be able to drastically reduce the emissions,” Guterres said.

He also said that the “addiction to coal” in parts of Asia could undermine climate action.

“Our strong recommendation is for countries to think seriously before building new coal power plants and for those that can do it to start phasing out the old ones,” he said.


12:25 p.m.

Spain’s interim prime minister says “only a handful of fanatics deny the evidence” of climate change — without naming any individuals or countries.

In a speech at the opening of a two-week climate summit in Madrid, Pedro Sánchez said “alternative facts” must be fought back with actions.

The leader of Spain’s Socialists, who is trying to assemble enough parliamentary support to remain in government, offered to host the summit after Chile was rocked by a wave of anti-government protests.

“There is no wall that will protect any country, as powerful as it might be,” he said, calling for Europe to lead the global efforts for de-carbonization.

Sánchez also said development should not ignore women and the environment.

Noting the contribution of Eunice Foote, the 19th-century U.S. female scientist who was one of the first people to see signs of global warming, Sánchez also said that development should not ignore “women or the physical limits of the environment.”


11:30 a.m.

U.N. chief António Guterres says the world has a choice to tackle climate change or surrender, asking countries to decide whether they “really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?”

Speaking Monday at the opening of a two-week U.N. climate meeting in Madrid, Guterres said new data shows levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases have hit a record high.

He noted that some countries are still building coal-fired power plants, adding that unless the world stops burning coal “all our efforts to tackle climate change will be doomed.”

Guterres said that big greenhouse gas emitters in particular need to step up their efforts or risk steep temperature rises by the end of the century: “The impact on all life on the planet – including ours – will be catastrophic.”


10:20 a.m.

Democratic members of Congress say the United States remains committed to the Paris climate accord despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told an audience Monday at this year’s U.N. climate meeting in Madrid that “we’re still in it.”

Pelosi, who led a delegation of more than a dozen members of Congress to the Spanish capital, said climate change poses a threat to public health, the economy and national security.

The congressional group is separate from the official U.S. delegation at the ‘COP25’ conference, which is led by Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, a senior State Department official.

The United States technically remains a member of the Paris accord until Nov. 4, 2020.


8:35 a.m.

Delegates from almost 200 countries have begun a two-week international climate conference in Madrid that seeks to step up efforts to stop global warming.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that the efforts so far are insufficient to overcome the “point of no return” in climate change.

“What is lacking is political will,” Guterres told reporters on the eve of the COP25 meeting, which opened Monday.

The summit, which moved to the Spanish capital after Chile had to pull out amid anti-government protests, aims to put the finishing touches to the rules governing the 2015 Paris accord.

That involves creating a functioning international emissions-trading system and compensating poor countries for losses they suffer from rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.


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Categories: International News