If the world does not change course by 2020, runaway climate change will be hard to avoid Tweet This!, says UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The defining issue of our era
For Mr Guterres, climate change is the “defining issue” of our era, but world leaders do not seem to realise it. Amid increasing concerns about the slow pace of UN negotiations, he wants global leaders to attend a special climate conference in New York in September next year, to give the world a much-needed push.
The impacts of climate change became increasingly visible around the globe this year, with heatwaves, wildfires, storms and floods. As Mr Guterres stressed, corals are dying, oceans are becoming more acidic, and CO2 levels in the atmosphere are the highest in three million years.
Even though world leaders agreed to act on climate change in Paris in 2015, even the modest goals of the Paris Agreement are far from being achieved.
Action can still be taken
Meaningful, effective action to fight climate change can, however, still be taken, and arguing it is too expensive, is “hogwash”: “For every dollar spent restoring degraded forests, as much as $30 can be recouped in economic benefits and poverty reduction,” said Mr Guterres.
The world has both the tools and the capacity to bring about real change: renewable energy sources are cost-competitive with coal and oil, according to the UN Secretary General. By 2030, wind and solar could power over a third of Europe. However, the absence of decisive political leadership is halting everything.
In addition, US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and his disbelief in climate change and multilateralism, have, according to observers, soured the UN talks on the Paris guidelines.
Mr Guterres said he is committed to change the political landscape to fight climate change and global warming, and mentioned the forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on how to keep the world from warming by more than 1.5 degrees C.
“We are careering towards the edge of the abyss. Our fate is in our own hands,” said the UN Secretary General.
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