Climate action woefully inadequate, U.N. talks leader Fiji says

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OSLO (Reuters) – Government plans for slowing climate change remain ‘woefully inadequate’ despite promises of tougher action under the 2015 Paris agreement, according to Fiji, which will preside at United Nations talks in Germany next week.

Officials from almost 200 nations will work on a “rule book” for the Paris accord at the April 30-May 10 meeting in Bonn. The pact aims to end the fossil fuel era this century but has been weakened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw.

Fiji praised governments for action including a deal this month to cut greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 2050. And no nations have followed Trump in planning to quit.

But overall “the current commitments nationally are woefully inadequate,” Luke Daunivalu, Fiji’s chief negotiator, told Reuters in a telephone interview. Fiji is the current president of the U.N. negotiations.

Dozens of nations, including China, Saudi Arabia and European Union states, have submitted documents to the United Nations in recent weeks about the state of global climate action.

“One recurrent, cross-cutting theme was that the scale and pace of climate action must increase dramatically, and immediately so” to avoid dangerous man-made climate change, Fiji wrote in a document summing up the proposals.

China, for instance, said there are still “huge gaps” in efforts to curb climate change and that rich nations are lagging in pledges to provide $100 billion a year to developing nations from 2020 to help them tackle warming.

Small island developing states, from the Pacific to the Caribbean, say they are suffering ever more from rising sea levels and storm surges whipped up by cyclones. They say there is too much hand-wringing and too little action.

“If we spent as much time working on this problem as we do congratulating ourselves for caring so deeply about it, we would be closer to an outcome worthy of a celebration,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, environment minister for the Maldives and chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States.

The rule book, formally the “implementation guidelines” for a pact that has no sanctions for non-compliance, will define ways to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions, and how to review and step up national actions every five years.

Agreement on the rules, due at a meeting in Poland in December, “will be the most critical moment…since the outcome in Paris in 2015,” said David Waskow, of the World Resources Institute think-tank.

Trump, who doubts climate change is mainly caused by human activities, plans to quit but cannot formally withdraw until 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron predicted this week that Washington would sometime rejoin.

Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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