A major report on 1.5C has been excluded from formal UN climate negotiations, after Saudi Arabia tried to discredit its scientific underpinnings.
Discussions came to a deadlock at the talks in Bonn after a small group of countries refused to engage in substantive discussions over how the report’s findings could be used to inform policies on increasing the pace and scale of decarbonisation.
The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lays out the differences between 1.5C and 2C of warming – a matter of survival for many vulnerable countries including small island states which pushed for the findings to lead to more ambitious carbon-cutting policies.
At the closing plenary, which took place amid soaring summer temperatures in the former west German capital, a five-paragraph watered-down agreement put an end to formal discussions on the report.
The agreed text expressed “appreciation and gratitude” to the scientific community for the report, which it said “reflects the best available science” and notes “the views expressed on how to strengthen scientific knowledge on global warming of 1.5C”.
It offers no way forward for the report to be considered further in formal negotiations.
In the final meeting of the talks, diplomats came together to express their disappointment. Franz Perrez, lead negotiator for Switzerland, wore a t-shirt with the message “science is not negotiable” and urged countries to use the report to inform their policies and “make the right decisions”.
A diplomat from Costa Rica said the IPCC report on 1.5C represented “a great triumph of science” and that “the quality of the work and the robustness of the conclusions are a tremendous achievement”.
“We recognise that many messages of the special report are difficult to accept,” she said, adding: “On climate change, listening to the science is not a choice but a duty. If we are asking the world to change, we also, as representatives, need to be willing to change.”
The meeting’s chair Paul Watkinson said science remained “at the heart” of UN Climate Change’s science stream and that it is “essential for all our collective and individual activities”.
Carlos Fuller, lead negotiator for the alliance of small island states (Aosis), told Climate Home News he was disappointed there would be no other formal opportunities for countries to delve into the science.
“When anyone is trying to discredit the science it is worrying, especially in the middle of a heatwave. We are the ones suffering if others reject the science,” he said.