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Climate Change Update: COP23 at Bonn Germany

Here’s what the Bonn conference is all about

You’ve probably heard of the Paris climate agreement from 2015, when world leaders agreed to voluntarily limit greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to stave off the worst effects of global warming.

That agreement was forged at the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, which was in Paris that year. This year, it’s in Bonn.

On the agenda this time around: filling in the details of those Paris pledges. They are voluntary, vague, and not easily verifiable. The diplomats in Bonn hope to firm up the countries’ commitments and make it easier to measure progress.

• Here are answers to the five biggest questions about Bonn, including: What’s the best-case scenario? And what might set off a fight?

• Here are five world leaders, or sets of leaders, who are emerging as climate change champions as the United States disengages.

Two years after Paris, the world is still off track

Under the Paris deal, nearly 200 countries submitted proposals for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. Yet not one of the major industrialized nations is on course to hit those goals.

And even those goals are just a starting point — emissions would have to be cut even further to stop global average temperatures from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels, the point at which scientists say drastic consequences will be unavoidable.

• Where do the countries stand now, what have they pledged and what will they eventually need to achieve? These charts lay it out:

Here’s How Far the World Is From Meeting Its Climate Goals

Two years after countries signed a landmark climate agreement in Paris, the world remains far off course from preventing drastic global warming in the decades ahead.

• Separately, a study released on Monday was another indication that the world has not turned the corner on cutting emissions. Industrial emissions had been steady for the past three years, but are projected to rise to record highs this year:

• Separately, a study released on Monday was another indication that the world has not turned the corner on cutting emissions. Industrial emissions had been steady for the past three years, but are projected to rise to record highs this year:

Graphic

CO2 Emissions Were Flat for Three Years. Now They’re Rising Again.

Industrial emissions of greenhouse gases will likely rise in 2017 after a three-year plateau. It’s a sign that the world is still far from achieving its goals to limit global warming.

• The increase in global emissions is due in part to China burning more coal. Indeed, China is full of climate contradictions — it wants to be a leader in fighting global warming, and is on track to meet its Paris goals, but it is a long way away from weaning itself off coal.

• The Green Climate Fund, established in 2010, was meant to help developing countries tackle climate change. Seven years later, many of the most vulnerable nations have not seen any grants and some projects have raised red flags.

• Led by Canada and Britain, 19 countries will end their coal power use by 2030. But none of them are big coal consumers.

• Some island nations, extremely vulnerable and frustrated by the slowness of the United Nations process, have started to look elsewhere for aid.

• The talks ultimately kicked most of the big issues down the road until 2018. It was a stark reminder that the real action on global warming often does not unfold in international venues.

The United States is in an awkward position

• The Trump administration has sent a delegation to Bonn, but the American negotiators are hashing out the details of a climate deal that President Trump has vowed to abandon — “like a spouse who demands a divorce but then continues to live at home,” as our reporter put it.

• Yet delegates from other countries have refrained from openly criticizing the United States. “What is to be gained?” a United Nations official asked.

• On Thursday, the top American diplomat at the talks, Judith G. Garber, struck a conciliatory tone, mentioning climate change and not coal, and drew polite applause.

• But the Trump administration also sent representatives from energy companies to promote coal, natural gas and nuclear power, industries that Mr. Trump has pledged to support. Their presentation was met with jeers from protesters on Monday.

• A shadow American delegation is also at the talks, led by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who have vowed that states, cities and businesses are “still in” the Paris agreement, even if the federal government is not.

Syria announced last week that it would join the Paris climate accord, meaning that every country in the world has now signed on to the pact or intends to join — and only one, the United States, has signaled its intention to withdraw from it. (Nicaragua, another holdout, said last month that it would join the agreement.)

• On the Friday before the conference opened, 13 federal agencies released a comprehensive scientific report that affirmed that humans are to blame for most of the global warming that has occurred since the start of the 20th century. That will not surprise anyone at the Bonn conference — but it does directly contradict statements from some top Trump administration officials.

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