United Nations chief Guterres calls for more action to tackle climate change

Pablo Tucker
December 4, 2018

Negotiators at the United Nations climate talks got down to the nitty-gritty task Tuesday of finalizing the rules for the Paris accord, a landmark agreement by countries three years ago to curb global warming.

"They're supporting you in making tough decisions but they're also willing to make sacrifices in their daily lives".

The issue of a "just transition" isn't restricted to workers in energy industries who might lose their jobs.

Poorer nations argue that rich countries, which are responsible for the vast majority of historic carbon emissions, must help others to fund climate action.

Such a move, which experts say is the only way to achieve the 1.5-degree goal, would require a radical overhaul of the global economy.

Yet political and United Nations leaders have been struggling to inject urgency into two weeks of haggling on how to move on from fossil fuels to give practical effect to the Paris accord.


Recent studies have shown that 20 of the past 22 years have been the warmest in recorded history, and climate change action needs to be increased fivefold if we want to have a chance to avoid catastrophic warming, which would cause permanent and irremediable damage to both human and natural environments.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the climate summit in Poland by issuing a dramatic appeal to world leaders Monday to take seriously the threat of global warming and act boldly to avert a catastrophic rise in temperatures before the end of the century.

"Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: Climate change", Attenborough said as the worldwide climate conference got underway with talks on how countries will implement the 2015 Paris Agreement limiting carbon emissions.

To maximise the chances of success in Poland, technical talks began on Sunday, a day early, with delegates from almost 200 nations debating how to meet the Paris target of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and, ideally, aim for a safer 1.5 deg C, which would limit the damage from weather extremes and rising sea levels.

Guterres pleaded with countries to reduce their emissions from 2010 by 45 per cent by 2030 and to set a goal to release a net zero emissions by 2050, recalling consequences laid out in the 700-page report written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The stage was set to decide on a better way forward on matters like worldwide trade, the global economy, and food security.

He said governments should embrace the opportunities rather than cling to fossil fuels such as coal, which are blamed for a significant share of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.


USA officials have kept a low profile at the talks so far.

The road to a final rulebook is far from smooth: the dust is still settling from US President Donald Trump's decision to ditch the Paris accord.

Calling Trump "meshugge" - Yiddish for "crazy" - for deciding to withdraw from the Paris accord, Schwarzenegger insisted that the climate deal has widespread support at local and state levels in the U.S.

Schwarzenegger said he wished he could travel back in time, like the cyborg he played in his film The Terminator, so he could stop fossil fuels from being used.

"Do you not see what is going on around you?" asked one man.

Drought, floods, rising sea levels, extreme weather events that threaten people's food security, climate migrants and the economic damage inflicted by climate change are among the enormous problems Africa faces despite its contributing less than four percent of world greenhouse gas emissions. "I think conservationists have to be careful in saying things are catastrophic when, in fact, they are less than catastrophic", he told The Independent in 2006.


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