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Grim warning casts shadow over UN climate talks

media Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls on delegates at UN climate talks to ramp up ambition after chilling report warns world way off course, Katowice, Poland, 6 December 2018 Christina Okello for RFI

Leading scientists on Thursday warned diplomats gathered at UN climate talks to do more to meet the 1.5C target. In a chilling report, they painted a stark picture of what the world would look like unless drastic changes were made to cut stubbornly high emissions.

"The science is there, now we need the political and social will," Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told delegates gathered in Poland for crunch climate talks.

In October, the IPCC published a chilling report about the consequences of global warming, urging “rapid and far-reaching transitions” to stave off the risk of extreme heat, droughts, flooding and poverty.

Two months on, those same findings continue to trigger alarm bells among the environmental community, and have sparked a wake-up call for diplomats in Katowice to do more to halt climate change.

Emissions stubbornly high

Despite the repeated calls for more ambition, greenhouse gas emissions remain stubbornly high, putting negotiators under increasing pressure to finalize the details of the Paris "rulebook" to maintain global temperatures below 1.5C.

"Good intentions are not enough" the head of Brazil's delegation told Thursday's plenary session, while Norway's representative insisted that the only response to the recent IPCC report was for countries to raise their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), aimed at reducing national emissions.

Building trust

Countries' current contributions would double global temperatures to about 3-3.2C by 2100, according to the IPCC.

That gap is also reflected in a new report published Thursday by the UN Environment Adapatation Gap, which highlights the divide between countries' preparedness for climate change and the actual measures they are putting in place to prepare their communities.

The COP24 must thus try and bridge these gaps by incorporating all levels of government, civil society and businesses.

It's doing so using an innovative new form of storytelling known as the Talanoa Dialogue.

Less talk, more action

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji to reflect a process of inclusive, and transparent dialogue.

Fiji was the host of last year’s climate talks in Bonn Germany and came up with the concept in partnership with this year’s host Poland.

The idea is to foster greater dialogue between delegates, who sitting around the same table, share stories about their experience of climate change.

In Thursday's preparatory phase, stakeholders and experts gave their input on the process' three central questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

One member of the audience offered this reply: "The Talanoa dialogue must not just be a place for talk, but a space for action," the head of the Youth NGOs told panelists.

"Young people make up more than 50% of the population. Our hopes are in your hands," she said.

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