Leaked US critique of climate report sets stage for political showdown in Korea

Confidential government feedback casts doubt on scientific models, pushes domestic energy priorities and questions economic basis for climate action

Confidential US comments on a landmark global warming report raise doubts about the science behind it, warn that it risks crimping economic development and advocate for carbon-catching technologies.

The nine pages of comments on a draft of the UN report reflect the views of multiple government agencies and reveal a US diplomatic corps trying to speak to multiple constituencies – the global community, their own domestic interests and the White House.

The comments, which Climate Home News has seen, also set the scene for a political battle over the report summary, which is up for negotiation in South Korea this week after two years of preparation and due to be published on Monday.

Broadly, Washington argued that scientists had downplayed the scale of the challenge to limiting global warming to 1.5C – the lower target of the Paris Agreement. To meet that challenge, the US called for more emphasis on clean technologies that the Trump administration has consistently supported – including carbon capture and storage and nuclear power. At the same time, the US warned, measures to tackle global warming must not interfere with cutting poverty worldwide.

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