NEW YORK, MAY 30 – “My message on climate: Green business is good business. Those who embrace green technology will set the gold standard as economic leaders”. With a not so veiled swipe at Donald Trump on climate abdication, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivered an urgent appeal to the world to stay the course and implement the Paris Agreement, under which countries pledge to voluntarily curtail their emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Allow me to be blunt. Our world is in a mess”, Guterres said: “Countries and communities everywhere are facing pressures that are being exacerbated by megatrends – population growth, rapid urbanization, food insecurity, water scarcity, migration… the list goes on. But one overriding megatrend is far and away at the top of that list – climate change. Climate change is a direct threat in itself and a multiplier of many other threats — from poverty to displacement to conflict. The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world. They are dangerous and they are accelerating”.
Speaking a language that he hopes can be heard in Washington, Guterres stressed that the implementation of the Agreement “is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Some may seek to portray the response to climate change as a fundamental threat to the economy. Yet what we are witnessing in these early years of a systemic response is the opposite. We are seeing new industries. New markets. Healthier environments. More jobs. Less dependency on global supply chains of fossil fuels. The real danger is not the threat to one’s economy that comes from acting. It is, instead, the risk to one’s economy by failing to act”.
Looking further ahead, Guterres announced his intention to convene a dedicated climate summit in 2019 “to make sure we reach the critical first review of Paris implementation with the strong wind of a green economy at our backs”.
Last week, at a meeting of the G7 industrial powers in Sicily, the Trump administration blocked the adoption of an endorsement of the Paris agreement. More than four months into his term, Trump argued that his team had not had enough time to review the pact.
On Tuesday, the news site Axios reported that President Trump has informed close associates that he plans to withdrawal from the climate pact, which includes a pledge by states to strive to limit the rise of global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius. “Let me also stress that my door is open to all who wish to discuss the way forward, even those who might hold divergent perspectives”, Guterres replied indirectly in today speech in New York: “The climate conversation should cease to be a shouting match. Yes, there will continue to be strong differences about how to achieve our climate goals. Yet it is also clear that the journey from Paris is well under way. The support across all sectors of society is profound. The transition in the real economy is a fact”. (@OnuItalia)