UN chief opens cli­mate sum­mit with call for hope over ‘sur­ren­der’

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives are in Madrid for a two-week meet­ing on tack­ling global warm­ing

The Hindu - - WORLD - Reuters

The world must choose hope over sur­ren­der in the fight against cli­mate change, UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said on Mon­day, warn­ing a sum­mit in Madrid that gov­ern­ments risked sleep­walk­ing past a point of no re­turn.

Two weeks of talks aimed at bol­ster­ing the 2015 Paris Agree­ment to curb global warm­ing be­gan against a back­drop of un­usu­ally se­vere weather dis­as­ters this year, from fires in the Arc­tic, Ama­zon and Aus­tralia to in­tense trop­i­cal hur­ri­canes.

Mr. Guter­res, a for­mer Por­tuguese Prime Min­is­ter and lead­ing ad­vo­cate of more am­bi­tious ac­tion to re­verse the up­ward march of green­house gas emissions, urged gov­ern­ments to avoid a “path of sur­ren­der” that would en­dan­ger the health and safety of all.

“Do we re­ally want to be re­mem­bered as the gen­er­a­tion that buried its head in the sand, that fid­dled while the planet burned?” Mr. Guter­res

told an open­ing ses­sion at the sum­mit, held in a han­gar-like con­fer­ence cen­tre.

Youth-led ac­tivism

He urged del­e­gates to re­solve an im­por­tant out­stand­ing is­sue from the Paris ac­cord: rules on car­bon trad­ing, seen as vi­tal for kick­start­ing faster ac­tion to re­duce emissions.

Micha Kur­tyka, Poland’s Cli­mate Min­is­ter who led the last round of U.N. cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions in De­cem­ber last year, had ear­lier said a surge in youth-led cli­mate ac­tivism un­der­scored the ur­gency of the task.

“They have the courage to speak up and re­mind us that we in­her­ited this planet from our par­ents,” Mr. Kur­tyka said.

Ex­ist­ing pledges made un­der the Paris ac­cord fall far short of the kind of trans­for­ma­tional ac­tion needed to avert the most dis­as­trous con­se­quences of global warm­ing in terms of sea-level rise, drought, storms and other im­pacts, sci­en­tists say.


An­to­nio Guter­res at the COP25 in Madrid.

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