Photo: Wind turbines | Credit: UN - Photo: 2019

UN Chief Stresses the Urgency of Tackling Climate Emergency

Viewpoint by António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General met with the Group of Seven (G7) leaders during the 3-day summit to mobilize action ahead of the Climate Action Summit taking place in New York on September 23. Following are extensive excerpts from the transcript of his Press Encounter at the G7 Summit which ended in Biarritz on August 26.

BIARRITZ, France (IDN-INPS) – We are now facing a dramatic climate emergency. Last month was the hottest month on record. We are on track for 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record.

At the same time, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest during human life and we need to move back three or five million years to get similar concentrations, and [at] that time, temperatures were higher and the level of the seas were 10 to 20 metres higher.

On the other side, if one looks at Greenland, the second largest ice cap, Greenland is melting dramatically – 179 billion tonnes of ice melted during the month of July. If we see the fires in Siberia, in Alaska, in Canada, and in Greenland in the Arctic Circle, we had in June 50 megatonnes of CO2 issued. In July, 79 megatonnes, and now we see what’s happening in the Amazon.

So this is really a climate emergency. We are much worse than what we were during Paris. And the best available science is clear, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: we absolutely need to keep the rise of temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius to the end of the century and to be carbon neutral in 2050 and to have a 45 per cent reduction of emissions by 2030.

And so it’s absolutely essential that countries commit themselves to increase what was promised in Paris because what was promised in Paris is not enough and what was promised in Paris is not even being implemented at the present moment.

We need more ambition, we need a stronger commitment. We see the society mobilizing, the youth mobilizing, and we want to have countries coming to New York and being able to commit to be carbon neutral in 2050, being able to increase substantially their ambition in the Nationally Determined Contributions to climate action that have to be reviewed in 2020.

And we need to make sure that we have shifting of taxes from people to carbon, ending subsidies to fossil fuels, and to make sure that we don’t build more coal power plants after 2020.

All this requires a lot of political will and the G7 was an excellent opportunity to appeal for the very strong engagement of the international community. The youth have been leading the way, and we’ll start the Summit with a youth climate summit in the UN, but we need, especially those countries that belong to the G7, to give a positive example. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 August 2019]

Photo: Wind turbines | Credit: UN

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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