United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Monday, cautioning that the world is in deep trouble over Climate Change, urged world leaders and their peoples to accelerate the momentum towards implementing actions to relieve the world of its deadly impacts.
“We are in deep trouble with climate change,” he emphasised. “Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late”.
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) in the Polish City of Katowice.
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.”
He 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.
The World Meteorological Organization, he said, had indicated that the 20 warmest years on record had been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years and that the concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest it has been in three million years.
Emissions were now growing again, he said, and that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report reveals that global warming could reach 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030, with devastating impacts.
“The latest UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report tells us that the current Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement will lead to global warming of about 3 degrees by the end of the century,” he warned.
“Furthermore, the majority of countries most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions are behind in their efforts to meet their Paris pledges.
“So, it is plain we are way off course. We need more action and more ambition. We absolutely have to close this emissions gap.
“If we fail, the Arctic and Antarctic will continue to melt, corals will bleach and then die, the oceans will rise, more people will die from air pollution, water scarcity will plague a significant proportion of humanity, and the cost of disasters will skyrocket”.
For many, people, regions and even countries, he said, climate impact was already a matter of life and death and an urgency of a situation and so the Katowice meeting was the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.
“Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” he stated.
“Nor are we doing enough to capitalize on the enormous social, economic and environmental opportunities of climate action”.
The UN Secretary General, therefore, called on the world leaders, business community and the private sector to use science to promote a more ambitious response to the phenomenon.
He said leaders should also hurry in pushing and operationalising the Paris Agreement that provided the framework for action on climate change.
“We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos, to consolidate the financial commitments made in Paris and to assist the most vulnerable communities and nations. Fourth: Climate action offers a compelling path to transform our world for the better,” Mr Guterres said.
The Secretary-General tasked countries to work to ensure that emissions decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and be net zero by 2050.
Renewable energy would need to supply half to two-thirds of the world’s primary energy by 2050 with a corresponding reduction in fossil fuels.
“In short, we need a complete transformation of our global energy economy, as well as how we manage land and forest resources. We need to embrace low-carbon, climate-resilient sustainable development.
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 noted the need for concerted resource mobilization and investment to successfully combat climate change, calling for a transformative climate action in five key economic areas – energy, cities, land use, water and industry.
He said Governments and investors needed to bet on the green economy, not the grey. As well as 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.
“We also have a collective responsibility to assist the most vulnerable communities and countries – such as small island nations and the least developed countries – by supporting adaptation and resilience.
“Making clear progress to mobilize the pledged $100 billion a year will provide a much-needed positive political signal.
“I have appointed the President of France and Prime Minister of Jamaica to lead the mobilization of the international community, both public and private, to reach that target in the context of preparation of the Climate Summit I have convened in September of next year.
“I also urge Member States to swiftly implement the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. It is an investment in a safer, less costly future. Many technological solutions are already viable and affordable. Cities, regions, civil society and the business community around the world are moving ahead.
The 13-day Conference ends on December, 14.