U.S. Refuses to 'Welcome' Landmark Climate Change Report, Alongside Russia and Saudi Arabia

The U.S. joined Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait in blocking the incorporation of a key scientific study into global climate talks in Poland. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in a landmark report released in October, warned of the dire effects of a global average temperature rise of 1.5 Celsius, and outlined ways to avoid it.

On Saturday, the four major oil and gas producing nations acted together to block endorsement of the study, which was commissioned at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

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"I think it was a key moment," Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Associated Press. "The fact that a group of four countries were trying to diminish the value and importance of a scientific report they themselves, with all other countries, requested three years ago in Paris is pretty remarkable."

The chart below by Statista shows how global carbon dioxide emission levels have risen since 1990.

This chart shows how global carbon dioxide emission levels have risen since 1990. COP24 is attempting to build on the Paris climate deal and develop more climate-conscious policies to limit damaging emissions. Statista

The report was widely hailed by world leaders as a key step in efforts to tackle climate change. But negotiations at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, hit an obstacle on Saturday when the U.S., Russia, Saudia Arabia and Kuwait objected to the conference "welcoming" the study.

Instead, they had wanted the conference to "note" the study, as they didn't endorse its findings.

"The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "As we have made clear in the IPCC and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report."

Delegates criticized the countries for blocking the report's endorsement.

"It's not about one word or another. It is us being in a position to welcome a report we commissioned in the first place," said Ruenna Haynes, a diplomat from St. Kitts and Nevis.

"If there is anything ludicrous about the discussion it's that we can't welcome the report," she said to applause, reported the BBC.

In a tweet on Sunday, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California emphasized the need for the U.S. to take action to tackle climate change.

"America can—and must—meet the challenge of climate change head-on. It's up to us to do what is necessary to secure a safe, healthy future for generations to come," she tweeted.

The move casts doubt on whether delegates will be able to reach a consensus on measures to tackle climate change by Friday, when the conference concludes.

"It's really an embarrassment for the world's leading scientific superpower to be in this position of having to disbelieve a report that was written by the world's scientific community, including a large number of pre-eminent U.S. scientists," Meyer said.