UN chief Antonio Guterres said Monday the world is “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe”, with major economies allowing carbon pollution to increase when drastic cuts are needed.
The planet-saving goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius is already “on life support,” he told a sustainability conference in London.
Keeping 1.5C in play requires a 45 percent drop in emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But even if nations honour newly revised pledges under the Paris Agreement, emissions are still set to rise 14 percent before the decade ends.
“The problem is getting worse,” Guterres said in a pre-recorded video message. “We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe.”
“If we continue with more of the same, we can kiss 1.5C goodbye,” he added. “Even two degrees may be out of reach.”
His comments came only hours before the 195-nation IPCC kicks off a two-week meeting to validate a landmark report on options for reducing carbon pollution and extracting CO2 from the air.
The report is expected to conclude that CO2 emissions must peak within a few years if the Paris temperature targets are to be met.
Guterres described covid recovery spending as “scandalously uneven” and a missed opportunity to accelerate the turn toward clean energy.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, he added, could further derail climate action with importers locking in fossil fuel dependence as they scramble to replace Russian oil and gas.
– ‘Addiction to fossil fuel’ –
“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap (climate) policies,” Guterres said.
“This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”
A bombshell report last year from the intergovernmental International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that a 1.5C world was incompatible with any new oil or gas developments, or new coal-fired power plants.
Breaking with the usual practice of not singling out countries, Guterres called out Australia and a “handful of holdouts” for failing to lay out “meaningful” near-term plans to slash emissions.
He also said the development needs and economic structures of China, India, Indonesia and other “emerging economies” prevent them from making similar commitments, especially on coal.
Rich nations should provide money, technology and knowhow to help these emerging economies purge coal from their energy portfolios, he added, pointing to a pathbreaking deal for South Africa unveiled at the COP26 climate summit last November in Glasgow.
“Our planet can’t afford a climate blame game,” he cautioned. “we can’t point fingers while the planet burns.”
Wealthy nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) must phase-out coal by 2030, and all other countries by 2040, Guterres said.
China and India — both heavily reliant on coal — have resisted a full embrace of the 1.5C goal, along with pressure to set more ambitious short-term emissions reduction targets.
Both nations, however, have set long-term “net-zero” goals for carbon neutrality, 2060 for China and 2070 for India.
G20 countries account for about 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
A landmark IPCC report on climate impact and humanity’s capacity to adapt, published last month, details an atlas of human suffering and warned that far worse is to come.
Unprecedented floods, heatwaves and wildfires seen across four continents in the last year will all accelerate in coming decades even if the fossil fuel pollution is rapidly brought to heel, the report concluded.
Guterres was addressing a four-day conference organized by The Economist.
Man arrested for raping neighour’s wife in Adamawa
Ministerial nominee Balarabe collapses during Senate screening
Five female students abducted from Katsina varsity
Two remanded for disappearance of Anambra LP gov candidate
Abducted NYSC members’ families laments lack of govt support
Anambra whistle-blower accuses court registrar of N1m bribe
APC suspends Kogi gov campaign after member’s death
Edo: Shaibu resumes duty in new office
VeryDarkBlackMan ‘doing the Lord’s work’, shakes skincare industry
Jenny’s Glow sues VeryDarkBlackMan, Meta, TikTok over ‘defamation’
Reactions as Nollywood star Moyo Lawal’s nude leaks
Portable: Queen Dami came to me for husband – Lege Miami
Why I’m still single, Skitmaker Ashmusy opens up
Tweeps react as key witness reportedly abandons Jenny’s Glow case
Blackmail: My sextape will soon be released, Carter Efe laments
Soun: Reactions as ex-RCCG pastor undergoes seven days spiritual rites
VIDEO: Thugs invade Osun APC secretariat
VIDEO: Strayed cow goes berserk inside NYSC orientation camp in Ogun
VIDEO: Are black cats bad luck?
VIDEO: Does COVID-19 only affect rich people?
VIDEO: Will I remain single if someone sweeps over my feet with a broom?
VIDEO: Gani Adams rallies Benin Republic monarchs for Sunday Igboho
FIDIO: Ǹjẹ́ Gbogbo Akitiyan Ìjọba Láti Mú Ẹ̀yìn Olóyè Sunday Ìgbòho Balẹ̀ Yìí Tọ́ Àbí Kò Tọ́?
VIDEO: Pastor Tunde Bakare declares National Movement
Entertainment21 hours ago
N5.5bn invested in BBNaija all-stars edition – MultiChoice
Crime20 hours ago
Edo human trafficker bags 12 years imprisonment, N24m fine
News8 hours ago
FG to give market women interest-free loans
News7 hours ago
23 oil blocks were inactive in 2021 – NEITI
Sports18 hours ago
NPFL implements random dope tests for new football season
News21 hours ago
OAU students protest against reduction of tuition fees
News20 hours ago
Reps to probe failed N6.5bn shoreline protection contract
News20 hours ago
14-year-old arrested over Thailand shopping centre shooting