Critical climate talks have been extended by two days in the Polish city of Katowice following two weeks of discussions at the United Nations’ COP24 summit.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said failing to find an agreement would be “suicidal”, which was a message echoed by island states that feared rising sea levels.
A group of low-lying states pledged to delay proceedings by “rebelling against extinction” and blocking any agreement that did not meet their demands for tougher policies.
“They’re going nowhere, for Tuvalu, for small countries,” the Pacific island of Tuvalu’s prime minister, Enele Sopoaga, said at the Polish event. “What we have on the table is very disappointing, very frustrating. We are unhappy. We are going back on the Paris agreement, what we agreed to three years ago. It looks like people still do not trust each other. There is a lack of confidence, trust on the principles of working together.”
Island states like Tuvalu are being submerged by rising sea levels while doing nothing to cause the problem.
Observers cautiously welcomed a draft deal that was published on Thursday but countries still need to resolve outstanding issues, including pledges to boost emissions cuts.
Talks, due to conclude yesterday (Friday), are now expected to extend into the weekend.
Sopoaga said the United States was standing in the way of an agreement.
“It’s the White House alone that’s dragging their feet,” the Pacific island prime minister said. “Our country is already going underneath the water. I hope the White House reconsiders its position.”
Donald Trump pledged to remove the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement when it becomes legally possible after 2020. He now appears to have aligned the US with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia to derail the moves towards a climate consensus.
The four oil producers questioned the validity of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report.
Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s climate chief, criticised US representatives for attempting to disrupt the Paris deal which they are looking to leave.
“Their reckless intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement was bad enough, but yet they continue to hang around like a bad smell, blocking progressive action from other countries,” Adow said.
The US delegation has been accused of encouraging other major polluters, like Saudi Arabia, to disrupt the Silesian event.
Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace’s executive director, said concessions must be avoided.
“Compromise texts are paid for in human lives lost and the poor and vulnerable are demanding so much more,” she told the media.
Tuvalu. The Pacific states have been vocal at COP24. Picture credit: Wikimedia