By John Heilprin
Leaders gathered in the Swiss ski resort of Davos are pushing for nations worldwide to shift to cleaner energy sources as the best way to contain global warming and re-energize the global economy.
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, reflecting the top billing that climate change has in Davos this year, said the world economy is at risk unless a binding deal is agreed in Paris in 2015 to lower heat-trapping carbon emissions from coal and oil.
“It is important that we get the treaty because the signal to the markets, the signal to the global economy, needs to be stronger than it is right now,” she said in an Associated Press interview on Wednesday.
Nations emerged from climate talks in Poland in November with a vague road map on how to prepare for a global climate pact to stabilize warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), a level countries hope will avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Figueres says she sees “momentum growing toward this” as countries like China reduce coal use to clear polluted skies and Indonesia plants more trees to protect water resources, seeing that it’s in their national interest to develop more sustainably.
Scientists say man-made climate change is likely to worsen starvation, poverty, lack of water, flooding, heat waves, droughts and diseases, raising the spectre of more conflict and war, unless drastic action is taken to lower emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas from their current trajectories.