Former U.S vice president and climate activist Al Gore makes a speech in a U.N. climate summit that is to work out ways of keeping global warming in check, in Katowice, Poland, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The Latest: Climate talks in Poland enter 'critical phase'

December 12, 2018 - 11:42 am

KATOWICE, Poland (AP) — The Latest on the climate talks taking place in Poland (all times local):

8:00 p.m.

The Polish government official serving as president of a U.N. climate summit says the international talks have entered a "critical phase" and require dedication from all involved if they are to end in success.

Deputy Environment Minister Michal Kurtyka said Wednesday that ministers from almost 200 countries are working to "unlock issues which are outstanding and which require political involvement of leaders."

The conference runs through Friday in Katowice, Poland. The goal of this year's annual climate event is working out ways to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during this century.

Kurtyka told The Associated Press that negotiators were moving forward on a wide array of issues.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres revisited the talks Wednesday to urge progress.

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7 p.m.

Dozens of rich and poor countries are announcing that they will step up action to curb global warming in an effort to kick start stalled climate talks.

The so-called High Ambition Coalition, which includes the Germany, Britain, Canada, Sweden, Spain and Argentina, also backed a drive to keep average temperature rise at 1.5 Celsius.

The announcement at the climate talks in Katowice, Poland, comes hours after UN chief Antonio Guterres made a dramatic appeal for negotiators to find a compromise to end the meeting successfully this week.

The coalition also counts several Pacific and Caribbean island nations.

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6:50 p.m.

A Ukrainian official has used the U.N. climate summit as an opportunity to criticize Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine's Minister of Ecology Ostap Semerak spoke Wednesday at the summit in Katowice, Poland, aimed at deciding on ways of counting and reporting carbon gas emissions by almost 200 participating countries, as they effort to combat global warming.

Semerak urged the participants to pay attention to the count for the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, to prevent a "double count" — because both Ukraine and Russia may report the figure from there.

He said Ukraine is stepping up its efforts in fighting global warming and cutting its traditional reliance on its coal.

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4 p.m.

Climate activists from Asia have protested on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks against the Japanese government's financing of coal mines and power plants in the region.

Burning coal is considered a major source of global warming. Japan has opened eight coal power plants since the 2011 Fukushima power plant disaster undermined public support for nuclear power. It is planning to add over 30 coal plants in the next decade.

The protesters called on Japan to stop financing coal.

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2:50 p.m.

The United Nations secretary-general has made a dramatic appeal for countries to compromise to tackle climate change for future generations.

Speaking Wednesday at the U.N. climate talks in Poland, Antonio Guterres told ministers and senior diplomats from almost 200 countries that reaching agreement "means sacrifices, but it will benefit us all."

The U.N. chief cited a key scientific report which found that curbing greenhouse gas emissions sooner is the most effective way to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

Guterres said failure in the talks "would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change," adding: "It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal."

Guterres said that while most people in the room would not be around by the end of the century, their grandchildren would be and "they would not forgive us if uncontrolled and spiraling climate change would be our legacy to them."

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2:45 p.m.

The United Nations secretary-general says countries must increase their contributions to international funds to help poor nations to tackle climate change.

Antonio Guterres told ministers and senior officials gathered in Poland on Wednesday that failing to agree on financial support "would send a disastrous message."

He also called for a strong framework to ensure transparency among countries' efforts to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris accord that aims to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

Guterres said scientists say the world has the ability to reach the target. He added: "What we need is the political will to move forward."

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2:35 p.m.

The United Nations secretary-general is urging negotiators at the U.N. climate summit to speed up their work if an agreement is to be reached by the end of the week.

Antonio Guterres told ministers and senior officials gathered in Poland on Wednesday that fresh reports highlight the urgent need to tackle global warming.

The U.N. chief said he recognized negotiators had made some progress since Dec. 2 but warned that "the key political issues remain unresolved."

Guterres told envoys that "we need to accelerate those efforts to reach consensus if we want to follow up on the commitments made in Paris."

One of the key tasks at the talks is to finalize the rules of the 2015 Paris accord.

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1:55 p.m.

Saudi Arabia's negotiators at the U.N. climate summit want scientists to spend more time examining global warming before countries decide on policies to tackle it.

A senior Saudi negotiator told reporters that his country wants to wait for a U.N.-appointed panel to complete a further review in 2022 before countries decide whether to endorse the science.

The negotiator briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to be identified by name.

Saudi Arabia drew anger from environmental groups and other countries Saturday after blocking endorsement of a special report on the Paris climate agreement's target of keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

They were joined by Russia, Kuwait and the United States.

The Saudi negotiator said his country supports the Paris agreement, despite recent comments by a former Saudi climate envoy calling it "dead."

The negotiator accused some countries at the talks in Poland of trying to shift the focus away from emissions targets toward the phasing out of fossil fuels. The oil-rich kingdom is trying to pushing technology it hopes can remove carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions.

— By Frank Jordans

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12:50 p.m.

The head of environmental group Greenpeace hopes U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will inject a sense of urgency in the stumbling climate summit in Poland.

Jennifer Morgan told The Associated Press on Wednesday that there's been a lack of leadership from major players in the talks, including the European Union.

Guterres, who flew back to Poland late Tuesday amid fears the meeting could collapse without agreement, is scheduled to take the floor shortly after 2 p.m. (1300 GMT).

Morgan said he "needs to make it very clear that he expects this COP to send a signal that all countries are going to increase ambition."

The 24th Conference of the Parties, or COP, is meant to finalize the rules of the 2015 Paris Agreement, but Morgan said current drafts include serious loopholes.

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10:25 a.m.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has flown back to Poland in an effort to support struggling talks on ways of fighting climate change.

Guterres was expected to make a statement Wednesday during the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, southern Poland, where negotiators from almost 200 countries are trying to work out an agreement this week on ways of keeping global warming in check.

The talks hit a hurdle Saturday when the United States and three other countries blocked endorsement of a landmark study on global warming.

A U.N. official who was not authorized to release the information told The Associated Press that Guterres, who opened the talks last week, has returned to Katowice to encourage progress.

— By Frank Jordans

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10 a.m.

Germany's environment minister wants more European Union funds to support regions affected by the closure of coal mines.

Svenja Schulze told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks Wednesday that Germany is committed to phasing out the use of coal, though the exact deadline has yet to be determined.

She praised the measures Spain has taken to achieve a so-called just transition for miners in that country.

In a nod to the recent protests in France over fuel prices, Schulze warned that governments that force through measures would lose public support "faster than you can spell climate protection, and then people pull on yellow vests."

The climate talks in Katowice, Poland, have entered a crunch phase, with some delegations calling for stronger leadership to ensure agreement is reached.