Weekly wrap: UN debates SDGs, climate plans flood in, Pope goes to DC

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Projections and peoples’ voices to celebrate UN70 and visually depict the 17 Global Goals (Pic: UN Photos)

Projections and peoples’ voices to celebrate UN70 and visually depict the 17 Global Goals (Pic: UN Photos)

By Ed King

We have a huge weekend brewing at UN HQ in New York, with countries set to debate and sign off on 17 goals to promote sustainable development up to 2030.

The ambitious targets include ending poverty, hunger and empowering women, while number 13 is specifically focused on tackling climate change.

We’re expecting the UN to formally sign off on the SDGs today, although they’re unlikely to change much from what was agreed by 193 countries at the start of August.

What we will want to hear more about is how they will be funded. Some experts have told Climate Home the shortfall could run into trillions.

Ban’s climate summit

Also this weekend, a select 40 countries (the usual suspects) will meet at the invitation of Ban Ki-moon at the General Assembly to talk Paris and a climate pact.

Earlier this year he said negotiations were moving at a “snail’s pace” and wanted to see more progress from countries on the nuts and bolts of the agreement.

We’ll have a report on Sunday’s meeting first thing Monday – although we’re not expecting any major shifts in negotiating positions.

The Pope!

Third in the wrap – hopefully the leader of the Catholic Church will forgive us.

He delivered a thinly-veiled warning to the US Congress on Thursday of the need to take environmental degradation  and climate change seriously. To mixed response.

Here’s Alex Pashley’s full report. Today (Friday) the Pope will address the UN General Assembly.

Plus: some some cool pictures from his visit – courtesy of Politico:

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Building on the diplomatic triumph of last year’s Washington-Beijing pact, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping will go further on Friday, announcing a new set of climate agreements.

Top of the bill is China’s new national carbon market that will come online in 2017, plus a pledge to deliver new flows of climate finance – significant given it is classed as a “developing” country.

There are also important moves regarding the UN negotiations – specifically the issue of “differentiation” – or how the roles of rich and poor should be defined in the Paris deal.

Here’s what a senior US administration official said in a press call last night.

“We’ve made new progress I think on the overall issue of differentiation, agreeing that we would, again, pursue an ambitious agreement in 2015 that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances — that’s the same sentence that we agreed to last year — and also embed differentiation in the relevant elements of the agreement in a manner that fits those elements.”

LIVE: Climate plan watch

We’re expecting a deluge over the next week before a UN deadline on October 1.

Headline plans submitted this week include Indonesia, Bangladesh and South Africa. India’s will likely emerge at the end of the month, Brazil’s potentially on Sunday.

Follow the latest on our Paris climate action tracker. Accept no imitations.

Pakistan climate law

Islamabad must start implementing its climate change plans, said a judge at Lahore High Court last week, ruling on a legal challenge brought by a farmer. Malini Mehra had the story for us.

Clooney v Nasheed

It’s the big climate battle the Daily Mail wants a piece of. Celebrity lawyers, a former president in prison on terrorism charges and a small country at risk from rising sea levels.
The Maldives was once known as a bastion for climate leadership – but it’s making the headlines for other reasons. Here’s my take.

Shell goes green?

Not quite. But the oil major is about to unveil a new ‘Energy Transitions Commission’ with Statoil and BHP Billiton.

It’s giving this the hard sell ahead of an official launch in Texas next week, but as Gerard Wynn writes, it faces a hard task proving its sincerity.

UK climate plans: what plans? 

Another week, another climate policy car crash for the British government.

Al Gore put the boot in early this week, professing his puzzlement at UK moves to quash support for nascent clean energy sectors like solar and wind.

Then right wing columnists usually supportive of the government said plans to invest billions in new nuclear were a colossal waste – a rare moment of agreement with some green groups.

On Friday it got worse with news that Drax – a vast coal and biomass power plant – was pulling out of an initiative to develop UK carbon capture and storage.

The FT spared no-one in its damning analysis:

“Another leaf has dropped from the blighted tree of Conservative green credentials. The stance of an energy department led by the appropriately-named Amber Rudd has switched from positive to neutral.

“It requires long-term support from British politicians for whom a week is an eternity. Easier for them to mumble words of contrition on climate change than drop a coin in the plate.”

Read more on: Breaking News