‘We must ensure that we help countries move, rather than hinder them’

A former U.N. climate chief, Christiana Figueres, says that while negotiators are “heading in the right direction” in those negotiations, they are not heading in the same direction that they were in two years…

‘We must ensure that we help countries move, rather than hinder them’

A former U.N. climate chief, Christiana Figueres, says that while negotiators are “heading in the right direction” in those negotiations, they are not heading in the same direction that they were in two years ago in Paris, when 193 nations had made a commitment to re-set their economies and countries’ carbon emissions to a level that would leave a 2°C threshold to limit planetary warming to as little as 1.5°C in place.

“I see no Paris moments on the agenda right now,” said Figueres, speaking at the Global Health Summit in Glasgow.

She emphasized, “Everything has to be done, but they have to be modest and manageable, rather than pie-in-the-sky goals,” she said, adding that people are in fact scared of the U.S. government, and she fears other countries are afraid to use the leverage of their economy to change their hearts and minds to this topic.

Figueres said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is deliberately hindering the process, not using leverage of the current economy to make the change necessary to stop climate change, and feels that Trump is undercutting the influence of his own country on this issue. Trump has said he plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.

“If you remove, the motivation factor and you reduce the leverage, that’s not the way to do it,” Figueres said. “Let’s get it [the transition] in the hands of countries and organizations and institutions.”

Figueres said that without the development of policies, how will we plan and finance and track it, and her office is trying to help with that. “It’s like being in a marathon — we need the beginning, middle and end, and it’s hard. But we can progress from there,” she said.

Outgoing U.N. Climate chief, Patricia Espinosa, said: “What is happening here is first about climate leadership and second about responding to a growing health crisis. Climate change is already causing health and social challenges across the globe.”

Espinosa pointed to a number of health-related impacts that are already being felt in places like Florida and Great Britain.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “delighted to hear that ministers are taking action to ensure the global health community and the U.N. climate change process have real and substantive voice in shaping future policy.”

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