President Trump's abrupt cancellation of bilateral talks with Mr. Putin at the G-20 meeting in Argentina -- following the seizure of Ukrainian ships by Russia -- puts any rapprochement on the back burner, at least for the time being. As leaders convene, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is flashing his wallet, his presence awkward, trying to buy friends -- this time India with the promise of investments, where tens of thousands of farmers are marching on Delhi to protest soaring production costs while produce prices plunge, as Prime Minister Modi meets with the Crown Prince.
In Argentina also, Human Rights Watch has petitioned successfully for a court prosecutor in the Jamal Khashoggi case putting the Crown Prince in peril of arrest. Fortunately for him the wheels of justice turn slowly in Argentina as elsewhere because its courts will first have to consider the issue of diplomatic immunity. He is safe for the present but the question of an international arrest warrant looms and could curtail future foreign trips.
The G-20 leaders will have their hands full with the U.S. and China trade war, dreaded photo-ops with the Crown Prince, and any new bombshells from the mercurial Donald Trump.
Doubtless more important for humankind is a second meeting: COP24, officially the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scheduled for December 2-14 in Katowice, Poland. Its purpose ... to develop an international agreement compelling all countries to implement the Paris climate accord, which limits global mean temperature rise to 2 degrees C. But then some time ago doubts arose about the 2C limit being enough.
So it was that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was charged with comparing the 2C rise with a 1.5C rise, and the risks to the world of both. The panel's 1.5C report unveiled to the world on October 8, 2018 was far from sanguine. For limiting warming to 1.5C, it allowed only a 12-year window. Beyond that such a rise will become a foregone conclusion "dicing with the planet's livability." There the matter rests as we await the outcome of COP24. By the way, a somewhat scary thought is the fact that when President Trump was asked about the 1.5C report, his answer seemed to imply he had never heard of IPCC.
Meanwhile, the annual greenhouse gas bulletin issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported a new high in CO2 levels of 405.5 parts per million reached in 2017, 41 percent higher than in 1990 and 46 percent higher than preindustrial levels. Average global temperatures in 2018 are expected to be the fourth highest on record and the last four years the four warmest. Calling it an emergency, WMO has commenced the development of methods to guide and observe emissions-reduction procedures at emission sources. Particularly worrisome also is the finding of a resurgence of CFC-11, an air-conditioning gas blamed for depleting the ozone layer, and supposed to have been phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Adding to worries, the rising CO2 trend continues for on May 14, 2018, another high of 412.60 ppm was recorded.
Moreover, the new UN emissions-gap report,
an assessment of country performance in meeting voluntary targets, also
confirms CO2 levels are rising for the first time in four
years. The prior decline, believed to have been caused by improved
technolog, turns out simply to have been a consequence of economic slow
down. In a
UN Environment notes only 57 countries, or less than a third of the
total, representing 60 percent of
global emissions, are on target to start decreasing emissions by 2030.
It begs the question whether current voluntary targets should be made
mandatory, an issue clearly ripe for debate.
can we expect from these meetings?