Weekly wrap: The race is on for UN climate top job

Favourites to take charge of UNFCCC revealed, lead envoys meet in Tokyo, China says it will breeze past 2020 goals, Saudi oil chief says divestment campaign is a threat

Grenada's Dessima Williams, Peru's Manuel Pulag Vidal and Brazil's Izabella Teixeira are potential candidates to replace Figueres (Pics: UN Photos/UNFCCC Flickr)

Grenada’s Dessima Williams, Peru’s Manuel Pulag Vidal and Brazil’s Izabella Teixeira are potential candidates to replace Figueres (Pics: UN Photos/UNFCCC Flickr)

By Ed King

Who’s gonna replace Christiana Figueres as UN climate talks top dog?

The application form is open, with a tax-free cheque for around US$200k and a castle overlooking the Rhine for the winner.

We pulled together a list of 10 possible candidates, ranging from Peru’s Manuel Pulgar Vidal to France’s chief climate envoy Laurence Tubiana.

Here’s one more name to add to the mix: Marcin Korolec. Poland’s former climate envoy has all the credentials, but will Warsaw’s coal addiction stand against him?

Climate ambition

Top negotiators are in Tokyo this week, meeting collectively for the first time since the Paris agreement was signed off.

The setting looks a bit Dr Strangelove, but we’re assured there are no insane generals keen on nuclear holocaust participating in the talks.

Interested in what’s next for diplomats? Gambia’s environment minister Pa Ousman Jarju explains what he thinks the UN’s priorities for 2016 should be.

One could be the rebirth of the ‘High Ambition Coalition’ – officials from the 48-strong least developed countries bloc want to keep the unusual grouping working together this year.

Good news too from China. Top climate official Xie Zhenhua says the country is on course to breeze past its 2020 carbon intensity goals and could exceed its 2030 target.

Saudi oil warning

Don’t ignore the divestment campaign and don’t allow the oil industry to be portrayed as the ‘dark side’, said Star Wars fan Ali Al-Naimi this week at a Texas energy meet.

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said the fossil fuel sector was a “force for good,” adding it was also time to ramp up investments in renewables like solar.

Wannabe climate jedi Jamie Henn, spokesman for 350.org which is organising the divestment campaign, unleashed his lightsaber at these comments.

Al-Naimi’s was like “Darth Vader trying to show his softer side” and “out of touch with reality”, he said.

Quote of the week

“Within the next 15 years—and especially if young people get involved—I expect the world will discover a clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power our world” – Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Tehran’s smoggy skies

Air pollution is an issue in Iran’s parliamentary elections, reports Alex Pashley.

Hundreds of candidates have signed a 15-clause green pact promising to shun damaging projects and liaise with NGOs.

UPDATE: Arctic sea ice

It’s not looking good for winter levels of Arctic sea ice. Levels are not rising as fast as in previous years, says Dr Peter Gleick from the US National Academy of Science. Record breaking temperatures have seen parts of the Arctic warm 4C more than the 1950-1980 average, say reports.


Around the world

Wikileaks: US spied on Ban, Merkel climate chats
Air pollution levels now worse than China
Early warnings pay off as Cyclone Winston strikes
Sea levels:
Major cities threatened by rising tides, finds study
Looming famine highlights climate vulnerability
UK: Heathrow 13 climate activists avoid prison

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