The UN secretary-general issued another grim warning to world leaders on Wednesday at the UN climate summit, informing them that “humanity has opened the gates of hell” and action must be taken in response to the escalating occurrences of extreme weather.
Table of Contents
Urgent Climate Action at UN Climate Summit
Antonio Guterres delivered these comments on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, as politicians along with activists, business and civil society leaders met for a climate summit.
“Our focus here is on climate solutions and our task is urgent,” he mentioned during his initial remarks at the summit.
“Climate action is dwarfed by the scale of the challenge. If nothing changes, we are heading towards a 2.8 degree temperature rise, towards a dangerous and unstable world.” he quoted.
Antonio Guterres spoke about what he called “horrendous heat” resulting in global consequences, including farmers witnessing their crops being washed away due to flooding, the emergence of diseases in response to scorching temperatures, and the displacement of thousands due to unprecedented wildfires.
Leadership Gaps and Calls for Action at UN Climate Summit
With the increase in the number of climate-related disasters, he said that world leaders are still not doing enough to stop pollution and reduce the use of fossil fuels.
The summit was organized with the aim that only world leaders who came with new concrete actions would be able to address their people on the issue of the climate issue.
Countries that have produced the most heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, themselves decided not to attend the summit. Heads of state from China, India, Russia, the U.K., and France all skipped the United Climate Summit (UN Climate Summit).
The U.S. sent climate envoy, John Kerry, but he wasn’t given a speaking spot in the summit, instead of him, the California Gov. Gavin Newsom was able to speak about efforts implemented by the state of California.
Emission Reductions and Climate Aid
There were 32 national leaders who were able to speak at the UN climate summit, but they represent only 11 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide pollution, which is not a big amount.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the country will exceed its targets for reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. PM Trudeau spoke of draft regulations that show Canada would exceed reductions of 75 percent by the 2030 deadline. But Trudeau went on to say while Canada’s own emissions are trending down, there was still work to be done on this issue.
He went on to touch on comments by Guterres urging leaders to accelerate their actions on reaching zero-carbon emissions as fast as possible ahead of the 2040 deadline or else they would have harmful consequences, saying that doing so is demanded by science demands and also an economic opportunity.
Climate Aid for Developing Nations
The Canadian prime minister also announced during the summit that the country would be adding an additional $700 million to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, which will help developing countries deal with the climate change crisis.
Guterres stressed that climate disasters tend to disproportionately affect developing countries, where the most severe and immediate impacts are felt.
“Many of the poorest nations have every right to be angry, angry they are suffering most from a climate crisis they did nothing to create,” he said, at the UN Climate Summit. “We need transformation to reveal trust.”
Global Climate Targets
In 2015, the global community collectively set a target to restrict the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, equivalent to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Guterres cautioned that our current trajectory is leading us toward a more alarming scenario of warming by 2.8 degrees Celsius, which is approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit. He underscored that such a temperature rise would usher in a perilous and inherently unstable world.
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a reversal of some of its climate measures on Wednesday, including delaying a ban on gas and diesel cars by five years.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, highlights the fact that member states have committed to reducing carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030, and are actually surpassing this target.