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06:04, 19 March 2018 Monday
Update: 11:52, 06 November 2017 Monday

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Still wary of 'Trump Effect', UN climate talks open in Bonn
Still wary of 'Trump Effect', UN climate talks open in Bonn

Five months after the world's most famous climate sceptic said he would yank the United States out of the 196-nation Paris Agreement, the diplomats and leaders tasked with implementing it remained both defiant and concerned. 

World Bulletin / News Desk

Confronted with a cascade of grim reports on the gathering pace of global warming, climate negotiators meet in Bonn Monday wondering to what extent US President Donald Trump will make their jobs more difficult. 

"We must preserve the global consensus for decisive action enshrined in the Paris Agreement," Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who will preside over the 12-day summit, said in a statement. 

"The human suffering caused by intensifying hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods and threats to food security caused by climate change means there is no time to waste."

Leaders from a score of nations are expected to take part in the 12-day talks running through November 17, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Inked in 2015, the Paris pact calls for capping global warming at "well under" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 1.5 C if possible.

So far, Earth's average temperature has gone up 1 C compared to pre-industrial levels -- enough to wreak havoc in many parts of the world.

Voluntary national pledges to reduce carbon pollution would still see the world heat up by a blistering 3 C, leaving a critical "emissions gap," and very little time to fill it.

"We have less than three years left to bend the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions downward to avoid the very worst and most catastrophic impacts of climate change," said Paula Caballero, global director for climate at the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based policy think tank.

That daunting task has been made all the more difficult by the US pullout, diplomats and experts said.

The problem extends beyond the likely shortfall in the reduction of US emissions, despite Trump's vow to protect carbon-intensive, coal-fired power plants from closure.

State-level governments led by California, along with major US-based companies, will likely pick up much of the slack.

Nor is what some call the "Trump Gap" in climate financing -- including $2.5 billion promised by Barack Obama but disavowed by his successor -- a deal breaker, experts said.

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