Climatologist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele says he was “disappointed” Sunday, the day after COP24 in Katowice, that Belgium lagged behind the most ambitious countries in the fight against global warming. “Flanders is making a very short-term calculation,” he points out. “I’m disappointed that Belgium, following Flanders’s opposition, did not join the Coalition for a higher ambition, unlike many other neighboring countries, and China among others. This shows little respect for the 75,000 citizens who demonstrated on 2 December, and little respect as well for the IPCC report’s conclusions,” he stated to the Belga news agency.
“This is a short-term calculation that Flanders is making, as it is much more threatened by rising sea levels than Brussels or Wallonia are. In addition, if the rest of the world economy turns to decarbonization by 2050, it is the very competitiveness of the Belgian economy that will suffer, should Belgium continue to cling to its lack of ambition,” former IPCC Vice Chairman says.
For the UC Leuven professor, it is also “very disappointing” that COP24 did not lead to a jolt of ambition facing the climate urgency, when it should have been a key moment for the countries to announce more ambitious climate plans than those filed in 2015 in Paris, at the COP21.” After the IPCC Special Report that announces a warming of 1.5 ° C, we are more fully aware today that the current plans are inadequate. The results on this issue are extremely disappointing. The IPCC was only thanked for having provided a timely report (requested by COP21), without any concrete reference to its conclusions. The COP24 text contains vague calls to raise the ambition level, while the urgency is there before us,” Mr. van Ypersele laments.
Referring to the adoption, in Katowice, of implementation rules — a sort of “traffic code” which, as of 1 January 2020, will quicken the Paris agreement aiming at significantly keeping global warming under + 2 ° C, and possibly + 1.5 ° C, former IPCC Vice President believes that the objective has been partially achieved. “Difficult negotiations will still take place next year to complete the part of the code regarding carbon markets. It is fortunate that this part has been postponed because the current texts are far from ensuring environmental integrity (absence of reductions and cheating) of these markets.”
The climatologist emphasizes, however, the “positive result” of the COP24’s creation of the Platform for indigenous peoples, which was under discussion for several years. “It will allow these often very climate-vulnerable populations to make their voices heard in the negotiations, which is important,” Jean-Pascal van Ypersele said, who applauds in passing the Belgian delegation, “which worked hard to achieve this result.”
The Belgian scientist also is “pleased” to have met “many climate-motivated young people” in Katowice, such as a 15-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, “who speaks of climate urgency with uncommon fortitude.” “It gives me great hope,” the climatologist concedes, who recently wrote a letter for his “great-grandchildren” to read in 100 years.