U.N. climate summit aims to move Paris deal forward without U.S.

Dec. 3 (UPI) — The United Nations kicked off its two-week climate change conference Monday in the heart of Poland’s coal country, with hopes of striking a deal to advance the 2015 Paris accord.

The summit — COP24, for the 24th convening of the Conference of the Parties — will discuss a myriad of climate-related issues, like U.S. President Donald Trump‘s withdrawal of the United States from the Paris agreement and complaints from Brazil under president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

“This is the most important COP since the signing of the [Paris] agreement, and we need initiatives like yours to testify that governments, the private sector and individuals can work together to tackle climate change by committing to multilateralism,” Ovais Sarmad, U.N. climate change deputy executive secretary, said in a statement Monday.

The World Meteorological Organization reported last week the global temperature has continued to rise to its fourth highest on record. It pointed out the 20 warmest years have been seen in the past 22 years.

That’s sparked a rise in sea levels, record ocean heat and acidification and sea ice and glacier melting at an accelerated pace.

Michal Kurtyka, COP 24 president and Polish secretary of state, noted his country’s coal dependence and called for a “just transition” to aid Poland and other governments to change.

“The world is a global village,” Kurtyka said. “We are all interdependent and need to come together to protect our planet. The world needs solidarity to pursue a path of just transition. The first step is to change the way we think, the way we move around and the way we consume.”

U.N. General Secretary Antonio Guterres said in a report by CNN more needs to be done — sooner rather than later — because “climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late.”

COP24 runs through Dec. 14.

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