Leader of U.N. is­sues stark warn­ing on eve of sum­mit

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Aritz Parra and Frank Jordans Aritz Parra and Frank Jordans are Associated Press writ­ers.

MADRID — U.N. Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said Sun­day that the world’s ef­forts to stop cli­mate change have been “ut­terly in­ad­e­quate” so far and there is a dan­ger global warm­ing could pass the “point of no re­turn.”

Speak­ing be­fore the start Mon­day of a twoweek in­ter­na­tional cli­mate con­fer­ence in Madrid, the U.N. chief said the im­pacts of ris­ing tem­per­a­tures — in­clud­ing more ex­treme weather — are al­ready be­ing felt around the world, with dra­matic con­se­quences for hu­mans and other species.

He noted that the world has the sci­en­tific knowl­edge and the tech­ni­cal means to limit global warm­ing, but “what is lack­ing is po­lit­i­cal will.”

“The point of no re­turn is no longer over the hori­zon,” Guter­res told re­porters in the Span­ish cap­i­tal. “It is in sight and hurtling to­ward us.“

Del­e­gates from al­most 200 coun­tries will try to put the fin­ish­ing touches on the rules gov­ern­ing the 2015 Paris cli­mate ac­cord at the Dec. 2­13 meet­ing, in­clud­ing how to cre­ate func­tion­ing in­ter­na­tional emis­sions trad­ing sys­tems and com­pen­sate poor coun­tries for losses they suf­fer from ris­ing sea lev­els and other con­se­quences of cli­mate change.

Guter­res cited mount­ing sci­en­tific ev­i­dence for the im­pacts that man­made emis­sions of green­house gases are al­ready hav­ing on the planet, in­clud­ing record tem­per­a­tures and melt­ing po­lar ice. But he in­sisted that his mes­sage was “one of hope, not of de­spair. Our war against na­ture must stop and we know that that is pos­si­ble.”

Coun­tries agreed in Paris four years ago to limit global warm­ing to well be­low 2 de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 Fahren­heit), ideally 1.5C (2.7F) by the end of the cen­tury com­pared with pre­in­dus­trial times. Al­ready, av­er­age tem­per­a­tures have in­creased by about 1C, leav­ing lit­tle room for the more am­bi­tious tar­get to be met.

Guter­res noted that some 70 coun­tries — many of them among the most vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change — have pledged to stop emit­ting more green­house gases by 2050.

“But we also see clearly that the world’s largest emit­ters are not pulling their weight. And without them, our goal is un­reach­able,” he said.

The U.N. chief said he hoped the meet­ing in Madrid would see gov­ern­ments make more am­bi­tious pledges ahead of a dead­line to do so next year.

Some of the world’s largest car­bon emit­ters — the United States, China and In­dia — will be rep­re­sented by min­is­ters or lower­level of­fi­cials. Pres­i­dent Trump has for­mally an­nounced the in­ten­tion to with­draw the U.S. from the Paris agree­ment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is lead­ing a del­e­ga­tion of Demo­cratic law­mak­ers to the talks.

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