UN details doubling in weather disasters ahead of climate summit

Preoccupied by the global terror threat, heads of state and government will have their work cut out for them at the 12-day climate summit.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 24, 2015, 03:10 AM IST

Paris: The UN today detailed a doubling in weather-related disasters over the last three decades, a week before nearly 140 world leaders gather in terror-struck Paris to thrash out a crucial climate pact.

More than 600,000 lives have been lost since 1995 to flooding, landslides and other weather-induced catastrophes, the UN Office for Disaster Risk

Reduction said, with the number of such events doubling between 1985-1994 and the decade ending in 2014.

The report "underlines why it is so important that a new climate change agreement emerge from the COP21," said UNISDR chief Margareta Wahlstrom, using the acronym -- "Conference of the Parties" -- for the global talks that open next Monday.

Paris is preparing for what may be the largest summit ever outside the UN headquarters in New York, in an atmosphere of high tension following last week's jihadist attacks in the French capital which left 130 people dead.

US President Barack Obama yesterday urged other leaders to join him in attending to show that "a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business."

Preoccupied by the global terror threat, heads of state and government will have their work cut out for them at the 12-day climate summit.

"We have stronger convergence on the broad contours of an agreement than we ever saw ahead of the Copenhagen conference," said veteran analyst Elliot Diringer, referring to international climate talks in 2009 that ended in bitter disappointment.

But even after six years of preparatory negotiations, the 195 countries gathering under the UN flag remain sharply divided on a slew of intertwined issues.

There are at least three battlegrounds where the talks could stumble. Predictably, the first is money.

The Copenhagen Accord agreed that poorer nations vulnerable to the impact of global warming would receive $100 billion (94 billion euros) per year from 2020.

The money is to help them give up fossil fuels, and to shore up defences against climate-driven food scarcity, heat waves and storm damage.

International climate finance has grown steadily, reaching USD 62 billion in 2014, according to an estimate commissioned by the UN.

But developing nations want assurances that the flow of money will be recession-proof and come from public sources.

"The developed world needs to walk their talk on finance and technology," India's environment and climate minister Prakash Javadekar told AFP today.

"We want climate justice for the billions of poor in this world."

Along with many other developing countries, New Delhi's pledge to engineer a massive switch to renewable energy is conditional on such aid.

Some 50 nations grouped together in the Climate Vulnerable Forum, meanwhile, are pushing for funds for climate-related "loss and damage".