Energy & Environment

UN climate summit stalls as US backs dispute over science report

The United Nations climate summit in Poland stalled over the weekend as the U.S. joined Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in declining to “welcome” a landmark study on worldwide climate change.

All four oil-producing nations are calling for the report to be “noted” rather than “welcomed,” a semantic difference that the State Department said draws a line between a U.S. acknowledgement and a full-out endorsement, The Associated Press reported.

{mosads}”The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report,” the State Department said in a statement, according to the AP.

The report, released in October by the the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warns that the world might be on a path toward catastrophic climate change if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut dramatically by 2030. 

“As we have made clear in the IPCC and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report,” the State Department continued.

Negotiators attending the nearly 200-nation conference took Sunday off after the four countries declined to endorse the report the day before, according to the AP.

“I think it was a key moment,” Alden Meyer, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the AP. “The fact that a group of four countries were trying to diminish the value and importance of a scientific report they themselves, with all other countries, requested three years ago in Paris is pretty remarkable.”

“Welcoming” the IPCC report would have meant accepting some of its findings as suggestions for future policy.   

The U.S.’s decision to distance itself from the report comes as Trump administration officials, including the president, have continued to cast doubt on the reality of global warming and whether climate change is human-made.

A federal climate change report released last month concluded that 92 percent of climate change is caused by human activity. President Trump has continued to undermine the report, which was authorized by 13 federal agencies, saying it was produced based on dubious modeling techniques.

The scientists who contributed to the report, many of whom work in the federal government, have insisted they used multiple models in order to conclude that climate change is poised to to slash the U.S. economy and substantially diminish the day-to-day lives of all Americans.

The IPCC report suggests phasing out fossil fuel use by 2050, the AP reported. 

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