Former UN climate chief doesn’t see a Paris-like moment in Glasgow
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – Christiana Figueres knows how to strike a climate deal, and she doesn’t expect the United Nations conference which just started in Glasgow and ended with the kind of big moment she conceived in Paris six years ago. But she remains optimistic, saying failure “won’t happen here.”
Figueres, the former executive secretary of the UN climate change program, was a key architect behind the historic Paris Climate Agreement 2015. She says negotiations leading up to the two-week conference in Scotland have not made enough progress to meet the UN targets of halving global greenhouse gas emissions from current levels and securing $ 100 billion a year in climate assistance from rich countries to poor countries.
These goals probably won’t be affected for two years, but that’s okay, Figueres told The Associated Press.
“From a scientific point of view, we are still on time, even if we do it in two years,” Figueres said in an on-site interview on Sunday evening at the negotiations site. “From a political point of view, this is a disappointment for many, and I understand. So I’m not celebrating it, but I think we have a responsibility to be honest and really understand the complexity of what we’re doing here.
When asked if that meant negotiations would end in failure, like the UN climate talks in 2009 in Copenhagen, she replied: “It won’t happen here. No no no. In fact, there has been too much progress and too much progress for something like this.
Figueres called for climate declarations from the two-day Group of 20 summit in Rome which ended on Sunday “dull”. Still, she said she was watching “where we are today, which is significantly better than where we were in Paris six years ago.”
Knowing what details worked to secure the historic Paris 2015 deal and the people still working on the issue makes her optimistic, Figueres said. In fact, she now runs a nonprofit called Global Optimism.
After the failure in Copenhagen, the Figueres office spent two years dissecting what was wrong and drafting a 300-page autopsy. One of the big changes was the start of the conference with over 100 heads of state attending for two days instead of the leaders coming at the end of the two-week annual meeting.
It works best because leaders can set the tone and have more negotiating space to “chart the course” instead of getting bogged down in the details that loom at the end, said Figueres, who in Paris also kept the energy of UN staff members alive with the evening. dance sessions after most people have left.
“For heads of state, it’s actually a much better use of their strategic thinking,” Figueres said.
Before leaving Rome for Glasgow on Sunday, US President Joe Biden called “disappointing” that Russia and China “hardly showed up” before the climate conference with commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two hours earlier, Figueres had painted a much brighter picture of China’s efforts and the strained relations between the United States and China.
Figueres said it was unfair to say that China would not show up at the Glasgow conference because President Xi Jiping would not come in person. She said the longtime Chinese climate negotiator, who worked on four bilateral agreements that led to the 2015 Paris agreement with then US Secretary of State Jon Kerry, is a force. major.
And she said that China and the United States have had intense high-level talks over the past two days “and I look forward to hearing the results.”
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