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Tuesday 11 Dec 2018 02.45 PM

Saudi, US snub of climate report unsettles UN talks

Saudi, US, Climate Report

Katowice : The refusal of the United States and Saudi Arabia to embrace a landmark environmental report has unsettled UN talks to breathe life back into the Paris climate pact, negotiators and observers said Monday. It may also signal more direct involvement of Donald Trump's White House, they said, in the nitty-gritty of the troubled negotiations, which depend on painstaking consensus building.

A US side event Monday promoting coal, gas and nuclear energy, led by special advisor to the president Preston Wells Griffith, reinforced that impression. "Alarmism should not silence realism," Griffith said before slogan-chanting protestors temporarily overwhelmed the venue. "We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability."

Trump announced in June last year that the United States would pull out of the 197-party Paris Agreement, which enjoins nations to cap global warming at "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Since then, critics say the White House appears to have taken little interest in the frontline work of veteran US diplomats, whose input has been described as "constructive" even by delegates at odds with US positions. That changed on Saturday, during what started as a cut-and-dried meeting of a subsidiary body within the complex UN climate machinery.

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