United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Monday, said meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, reached in 2015, would reduce air pollution – saving more than a million lives each year by 2030, quoting the World Health Organization.
He said the recent New Climate Economy report reveals that ambitious climate action could also yield 65 million jobs and a direct economic gain of $26 trillion compared; to business as usual over the next 12 years.
Mr Guterres was speaking at a media conference, after the official opening ceremony of the 24th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), on Monday, in the Polish City of Katowice.
He said Governments and investors needed to bet on the green economy, not the grey; while embracing carbon pricing, eliminating harmful fossil fuel subsidies and investing in clean technologies.
“It also means providing a fair transition for those workers in traditional sectors that face disruption, including through retraining and social safety nets”.
He described Climate Change as “the single most important issue facing the world, affecting all plans for sustainable development and a safe, secure and prosperous world.”
Mr Guterres expressed his frustration over the attitude of world leaders over the issue, saying they were collectively still moving too slowly; and even in the wrong direction towards addressing climate change impacts.
“Countries need a more political will and a more far-sighted leadership to effectively combat climate change,” he stated. “And we need a global commitment to gender equality, because women’s leadership is central to durable climate solutions.
“But that ambition needs to begin here, right now, in Katowice, driven by governments and leaders who understand that their legacies and the well-being of future generations are at stake. We cannot afford to fail in Katowice”.
He, therefore, urged delegates, parties, negotiators, ministers, governments and heads of states attending the 13-day conference to ensure that they finalised the Paris Agreement Work Programme – the rule book for implementation.
“I remind all Parties that this is a deadline you set for yourselves and it is vital you meet it. We need a unifying implementation vision that sets out clear rules, inspires action and promotes raised ambition, based on the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.
He also called for concerted resource mobilisation and investment to successfully combat climate change with a transformative climate action in five key economic areas – Energy; Cities; Land use; Water and Industry.
Mr Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, who also addressed at the media conference, said climate protection was a duty for all, especially, leaders, and urged the commitment to finding realistic solutions and goals that could be achieved.
About 20,000 people from 190 countries, including politicians, representatives of civil society NGOs and the scientific Community are attending COP 24.
Ghana is actively participating in the Conference with experts and government officials from a number of relevant fields.