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

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page -

MADRID (AFP) — 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 En­vi­ron­ment 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.

Pelosi in Madrid

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 re­sis­tance 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. (With a report from Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.