Warming Outpacing Climate Action as UN Negotiators Meet in Switzerland
The opening of the United Nation’s annual mid-year climate conference in Bonn Germany offered up dramatically contrasting messages this week: national leaders and political negotiators congratulated themselves, proudly celebrating the “historic Paris Agreement,” while environmentalists warned somberly that the Earth is far worse off than most people realize, with the political will for climate action still falling far behind the fearfully rapid pace of warming.
The conference opening coincided with a NASA announcement this week of seven straight months of record-shattering global heat. The first four months of 2016 averaged +1.43 Celsius (2.57 Fahrenheit) above 1880s preindustrial baselines — that’s uncomfortably close to the +1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) limit established by scientists as a dangerous global average temperature threshold, and also the limit suggested by the Paris Agreement.
“Today marks a new era for all of us,” declared Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the opening session attended by scores of nations. “Together you all worked hard [in Paris] to construct a collective vision of transformation based on fairness and transparency, profoundly inspired by new prospects for growth. Now you must work together to make that reality as compelling and transformative as your shared vision.”