‘Don’t lose hope’ on climate, UN chief says
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged countries not to lose hope in the fight against climate change, as representatives from nearly 200 countries gathered in Madrid for a two-week meeting on tackling global warming.
In his opening speech to delegates, Mr Guterres cited recent scientific data showing that levels of heat-trapping gases have hit a record high, reaching levels not seen for at least three million years when sea levels were 10-20 metres higher than today.
Unless emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are sharply cut, temperatures could rise to twice the threshold set in the 2015 Paris accord by the end of the century, he warned.
“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 asked.
Countries agreed in Paris four years ago to limit global warming to well below 2C (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5C (2.7F) by the end of the century.
Already, average temperatures have increased by about 1C.
Mr Guterres said that unless the world stops burning coal “all our efforts to tackle climate change will be doomed,” adding that if countries had started cutting emissions a decade ago, reaching the goal would have been easier.