KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) - Talks billed as the most important U.N. conference since the Paris 2015 deal on climate change are in their crucial final week in Katowice, capital of Poland’s Silesian coal mining district.
The aim is to meet an end-of-year deadline for agreeing a rule book on how to enforce action to limit further warming of the planet.
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Below is a flavor of the mood around the event, held in a sprawl of temporary passageways and meeting rooms next to the “Spodek”, a flying-saucer-shaped sports and concert venue built on the site of the former Katowice coal mine.
Ministers and heads of state from around 134 countries started to give opening speeches. At the end of his, Maldives’ environment minister Hussain Hassan asked fellow ministers at the plenary to stand.
“There is no time to lose. Stand for a few moments and think about what will happen if we fail to save the planet now,” he said.
Brexit turmoil and French riots have kept many government chiefs away from the final and crucial week, with only four national leaders present as of Tuesday.
Negotiating teams have been asked to produce a more concise draft text on the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement today. The draft is not yet available.
Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze said the importance of the small print cannot be over-estimated and will enable countries’ actions to be made transparent.
Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid said: “Delivering a successful outcome in Katowice is like solving a three-dimensional jigsaw. It has three parts, the Paris rulebook, finance for poor countries and renewed emissions reductions.
“Like an African stool, it doesn’t work if one of the legs is missing,” he added.
In a central zone of the sprawling venue, countries have “pavilions” where they showcase their low-carbon efforts.
The Polish pavilion has been described as “provocative” by some environmentalists because one side has cages of coal on the wall with the slogan “black to green transformation” - implying coal can be used in a way that significantly reduces its carbon emissions.
Qatar is usually in the lavish Gulf Cooperation Council pavilion but has its own, smaller one this year. The country is in a diplomatic rift with other members and its leader boycotted a GCC summit on Sunday.
Last week, Qatar said it would quit OPEC to focus on gas, in a swipe at Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the oil exporting group which is trying to show unity in tackling an oil price slide.
Reporting by Nina Chestney, Bate Felix and Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Robin Pomeroy