At Katowice, United Nations chief warns of catastrophic changes to climate if Paris Agreement terms not implemented
“Governments and investors need to bet on the green economy, not the grey,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his address at the second day of 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.
Stating that “majority of countries most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions are behind in their efforts to meet their Paris pledges”, the UN Chief warned of the devastating impact a 1.5 degree rise in temperature will have on ecosystems.
As reported by the Down To Earth, the coming two weeks will see discussions on the terms of how different elements of the agreement will be implemented from 2020. The first week of COP24 will involve parties negotiating to arrive at a consensus for the finalised Rule Book, followed by its adoption in the second week and statements.
“Last year, I visited Barbuda and Dominica, which were devastated by hurricanes. The destruction and suffering I saw was heart-breaking. That story is repeated almost daily somewhere in the world. These emergencies are preventable,” said Guterres.
He called for “a complete transformation of global energy economy, better management of land and forest resources with a focus on low-carbon, climate-resilient sustainable development”.
“Emissions must decline by 45 per cent by 2030 and be net zero by 2050. Renewable energy will need to supply half to two-thirds of the world’s primary energy by 2050. And coal must provide less than 7 per cent of global energy, from current levels of approximately one-third of all energy used worldwide,” he said.
The UN chief warned that “we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption”.
Guterres outlined four objectives to negate a catastrophic future. First was the need for an “ambitious response” towards the growing threat of global warming, on which numerous scientific reports have been put in the public domain.
“According to the World Meteorological Organization, the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years. The concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest it has been in three million years. The current Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement will reportedly lead to global warming of about 3 degrees by the end of the century.”
Hence, the second objective is to urgently implement actions under the Paris Agreement, he said. “We have no time for limitless negotiations.”
The third and one of the most crucial objectives is to mobilise resources and investment. According to Guterres, “we need transformative climate action in five key economic areas – energy, cities, land use, water and industry.”
Highlighting that about 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 is still to come up, the UN chief said that the course of action countries chose to take will determine the future.
He suggested that countries not only need to invest in clean fuel and technologies, but also ensure safeguards for those at risk of unemployment due to the transition as well as assistance for the most vulnerable communities and countries.
“Making clear progress to mobilise the pledged $100 billion dollars a year will provide a much-needed positive political signal. I also urge Member States to swiftly implement the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund,” he said.
Finally, the UN chief, in the fourth objective, raked up the significance and benefits from sustained global climate action. He quoted the New Climate Economy report to state that “ambitious climate action could yield 65 million jobs and a direct economic gain of $26 trillion dollars over the next 12 years”.
Guterres stressed on how meeting the Paris Argreement guidelines would help save millions of lives every year, which are lost to pollution and growing natural disasters. He urged increased participation from the younger generation, and an urgent need to transition to a low-carbon economy.
“Governments and investors need to bet on the green economy, not the grey... If we fail, the Arctic and Antarctic will continue to melt, corals will die, the oceans will rise, more people will die from air pollution, water scarcity will plague a significant proportion of humanity, and the cost of disasters will skyrocket.”
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