Saturday, January 25, 2020 | ePaper

Climate crisis has reached ‘point of no return’: UN chief says

  • Print


Guterres flagged a UN report to be released in a few days confirming the last five years are the warmest on record, with 2019 likely to be the second hottest ever.

AFP, Madrid :
The devastating impacts of global warming that threaten humanity are a pushback from Nature under assault, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned Sunday ahead of a key climate conference.
"For many decades the human species has been at war with the planet, and now the planet is fighting back," he said, decrying "utterly inadequate" efforts of the world's major economies to curb carbon pollution. "We are confronted with a global climate crisis and the point of no return is no longer over the horizon, it is in sight and hurtling towards us."
Guterres flagged a UN report to be released Tuesday confirming the last five years are the warmest on record, with 2019 likely to be the second hottest ever.
"Climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent, more deadly, more destructive," he said on the eve of the 196-nation COP25 climate change talks in Madrid.
Human health and food security are at risk, he added, noting that air pollution associated with climate change accounts for seven million premature deaths every year.
The Paris Agreement calls for capping global warming at under two degrees Celsius, but recent science has made clear that the treaty's aspiration goal of 1.5C is a far safer threshold.
A UN Enviroment Programme report last week concluded that CO2 emissions would need to drop by a vertiginously steep 7.6 percent per year over the next decade to stay within that limit.
But Guterres insisted that the 1.5C goal is doable. All that is missing, he said, is political will.
"Let's be clear - up to now, our efforts to reach this target have been utterly inadequate," he said. "The world's largest emitters are not pulling their weight."
Current national pledges - if carried out - would see global temperatures rise by at least 3C, a recipe for human misery, according to scientists.
·The UN chief's comments were clearly aimed at the handful of countries responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions, though he did not call them out by name. President Donald Trump has set in motion the process that will see the United States withdraw from the Paris deal by year's end.
At the same time, a US Congressional delegation going to Madrid will be headed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, listed by the Spanish government among heads of state and VIPs.
"We want to give every opportunity to the US to remain within the commitments in the fight against climate change," a spokesperson for the Spanish prime minister's office told AFP.
Other major emitters - China, India, Russia and Brazil - have given scant indication that they will deepen their commitments in the near term.
Guterres did single out the European Union as playing a constructive role.
"Europe has an absolutely essential role to play, and must be a cornerstone in the global negotiations leading to carbon neutrality," he said.
The European Commission's new president Ursula Von der Leyen is trying to steer the bloc towards a target of "zero net emission" by 2050, but continues to face resistence from some members, including Poland and Hungary.
To help speed the transition of the financial sector, which continues to invest heavily in the fossil fuels driving global warming, Guterres announced the appointment of current Bank of England governor Mark Carney as special envoy on climate action and finance, effective January.
"The announcement of Mr. Carney's new role is a powerful signal that we need greater ambition on all fronts, not only from governments," said Spain's Minister for the Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera.
"The global shift from the grey to the green economy is gathering momentum," she said in a statement. "But much more is needed."
Despite growing public pressure for decisive action, the 12-day negotiating session is likely to remain technical in nature, focused on finalising the "rulebook" for the Paris Agreement, which becomes operational at the end of next year.

More News For this Category

US city Seattle allows mobile voting for board of supervisors' election

US city Seattle allows mobile voting for board of supervisors' election

AP, San Francisco :Smartphones have made voting easier, as King County in the US state of Washington, where Seattle is located, implements mobile voting in their board of supervisors'

Islamic leaders make ‘groundbreaking’ visit to Auschwitz

Islamic leaders make ‘groundbreaking’ visit to Auschwitz

AP, Warsaw :Muslim religious leaders joined members of a U.S. Jewish group at Auschwitz on Thursday for what organizers described as "the most senior Islamic leadership delegation" to visit

Annabella Sciorra says Harvey Weinstein brutally raped her

Annabella Sciorra says Harvey Weinstein brutally raped her

AFP, New York :"The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra fought back tears as she told a court Thursday that being raped by Harvey Weinstein left her feeling like she was

News In Brief

Pakistan still shelters insurgents: Afghan PresidentReuters, DavosAfghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday that Pakistan continued to give sanctuary to an insurgent group that helps the Taliban in its

Imran Khan calls for UN action over Kashmir dispute

Imran Khan calls for UN action over Kashmir dispute

Reuters, Davos :Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Wednesday for the United Nations to help mediate between nuclear armed India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir."This

Philippines President Duterte threatens to end US military pact

Philippines President Duterte threatens to end US military pact

AFP, Manila :Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to end a pact key to annual war games with American troops if the US does not restore the travel visa

Russian MPS give quick first approval to Putin reforms

Russian MPS give quick first approval to Putin reforms

AFP, Moscow  :Russian lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved a sweeping constitutional reform bill put forward by President Vladimir Putin in its first reading, after less than two hours of debate.All

Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary for  defamation, seeks $50m

Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary for defamation, seeks $50m

Reuters, Washington :Democratic presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard sued Hillary Clinton for defamation on Wednesday, seeking at least $50 million in damages for harming her reputation by suggesting last year that

Brexit Bill clears Britain parliament, set to become law

Brexit Bill clears Britain parliament, set to become law

After years of acrimonious debate, British lawmakers on Wednesday finally approved the terms of their country's historic departure from the European Union-due in just nine days time.MPs in the lower

World leaders in Israel to recall horrors of Auschwitz

World leaders in Israel to recall horrors of Auschwitz

AFP, Jerusalem.:Israel hosts dozens of world leaders Thursday to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, the World War II death camp where the Nazis killed more than 1.1