UN chief warns world is sleepwalking towards climate catastrophe

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media at the United Nations headquarters in New York, United States, March 14, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world was “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe” due to slow action on emissions and a continued reliance on fossil fuels.

António Guterres said the Paris Agreement target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius was “alive”, and called on rich country leaders to blame emerging economies, and vice versa -poured.

The UN chief also said the response to the Ukrainian conflict has exacerbated the climate crisis, as major economies pursue strategies to replace Russian fossil fuels, resulting in ‘short-term measures’ creating ‘long-term dependency’. end to fossil fuels”.

“This is madness,” António Guterres told the Economist Sustainability Summit in London. “Fossil fuel addiction is mutually assured destruction.”

Guterres said some progress was made at the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow last November, including agreements to end deforestation, reduce methane emissions and mobilize private finance.

“But the main problem has not been solved,” he said. “It hasn’t even been properly addressed, and that problem is the huge emissions gap.”

Experts estimate that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees will require a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century. Guterres said current national reduction commitments will lead to a 14% increase in emissions over the 2020s.

“This problem has not been solved in Glasgow. In fact, the problem is getting worse,” he said.

Guterres also addressed a common cause of conflict during the COP26 negotiations, where wealthy countries pointed to high emissions in emerging economies that are still industrializing, while developing countries focused on the burden history of emissions from developed regions.

“If this continues, there are no winners in a blame game,” Guterres said. “We can’t point fingers while the planet is burning.”

António Guterres advocated the formation of coalitions to provide major emerging economies with the resources and technology needed to accelerate their transition from coal to renewable energy.

He said such an effort was underway in South Africa, which is one of the most coal-dependent countries in the group of G20 economies. In November, the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom announced the International Partnership for a Just Energy Transition, through which partner countries will support decarbonization in South Africa.

“And the elements are falling into place for coalitions in Indonesia, Vietnam and elsewhere,” said Guterres, who also called China’s 2021 commitment to stop investing in overseas coal projects as a positive development.

Guterres made his comments days after scientists confirmed record high temperatures in parts of Antarctica.

“East Antarctica, the coldest place on earth, is experiencing an incredible heat wave never seen before,” said Renato Colucci, climatologist at Severe Weather Europe.

Temperatures at the Concordia Research Station on the Southern Continent hit minus 12.2 degrees Celsius on Friday, the highest temperature since records began, and about 40 degrees Celsius above average for this time of year. year.