Humanity’s fate hangs in balance amid climate crisis: UN chief

December 2, 2023, 12:28 pm

<p> UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  <em>(Anadolu)</em></p>

 UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.  (Anadolu)

ISTANBUL – The United Nations chief warned on Friday of the catastrophic effects of climate change, saying that “humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.”

“The climate challenge is not just another issue in your inbox. Protecting our climate is the world’s greatest test of leadership. I urge you to lead,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told world leaders in his address to the COP28 climate summit in UAE’s city of Dubai.

Guterres also said the conference should be a ray of hope in the struggle against climate change.

“Make this COP a new hope for the future,” he said, addressing the world leaders attending the conference.

“You can prevent planetary crash and burn. We need leadership, cooperation, and political will. And we need it now,” Guterres said, adding that climate justice is "long overdue.”

“Developing countries are being devastated by disasters they did not cause,” he said.

"Extortionate borrowing costs are blocking their climate action plans. And support is far too little, far too late,” Guterres also warned.

'Earth’s vital signs are failing'

Guterres also warned that "Earth’s vital signs are failing."

"Record emissions, ferocious fires, deadly droughts, and the hottest year ever. We are miles from the goals of the Paris Agreement – and minutes to midnight for the 1.5-degree limit," he said, referring to the global temperature rise target set back in 2021 during the COP26.

“But it is not too late. You can prevent planetary crash and burn. We have the technologies to avoid the worst of climate chaos – if we act now.”

Guterres also mentioned his recent trip to Antarctica.

“Just days ago, I was on the melting ice of Antarctica. Not long before, I was among the melting glaciers of Nepal. These two spots are far in distance, but united in crisis,” he said.

“Polar ice and glaciers are vanishing before our eyes, causing havoc the world over: from landslides and floods to rising seas,” the secretary-general added.

“But this is just one symptom of the sickness bringing our climate to its knees.”

‘Bombs are dropping on Gaza’

The UN chief also referred to societal and political effects of climate change.

“As we see in this region, conflicts are causing immense suffering and intense emotion. And climate chaos is fanning the flames of injustice,” he said, adding that the "bombs are dropping on Gaza," in a reference to Israel's ongoing aggression.

“Global heating is busting budgets, ballooning food prices, upending energy markets, and feeding a cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

“Climate action can flip the switch.”

Renewables cheaper than ever

The secretary general also emphasized the importance of using renewables and said that they are more accessible than ever.

“It is good for our planet, our health, and our economies. Cleaning our air, meeting the world’s growing energy demand, connecting millions of people to affordable electricity, bringing stability and security to markets, and saving money – renewable energy has never been cheaper,” he said.

G20 must lead the globe

Guterres further underscored the developed countries' importance in driving positive changes in fight against the climate change.

“Current policies would lead to an earth-scorching three-degree temperature rise. The Global Stocktake must set clear expectations for economy-wide Nationally Determined Contributions, that cover all greenhouse gases, and align with the 1.5-degree limit,” he said, adding that the G20, "which represents 80 percent of the world’s emissions, must lead.”

“Developed countries must show how they will double adaptation finance to USD40 billion a year by 2025 – as promised – and clarify how they deliver on the USD100 billion – as promised.”

According to the UN, COP28 will underline the need “to preserve a livable climate,” while emphasizing that the production of coal, oil, and gas “must rapidly decline.”

Another key aim is to ramp up the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy.

The UN wants the capacity of renewables to triple by 2030.

Financing and investments for adaptation and climate resilience “need a quantum leap,” according to the UN. (Anadolu)