Guterres warns of “point of no return” on climate change, still signals “message of hope, not despair”

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L'intervento di Guterres

MADRID, DECEMBER 2 – As political leaders meet in Madrid today for two weeks of climate talks at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25), UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon” and added that the world’s efforts to stop climate change had so far been “utterly inadequate”.

Guterres cited mounting scientific evidence for the impact that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are already having on the planet. “My message here today is one of hope not of despair”, said Guterres addressing journalists at a press conference in the Spanish capital on Sunday, after revealing the key takeaways from the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Climate report, due to be published during COP25. “The last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. Sea levels are at the highest in human history”, he said, listing the benchmarks which indicate that “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and is hurtling towards us”.

But scientists have provided a roadmap away from that point, which will allow to limit global temperature rise to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels, by 2030, added the UN chief: “The technologies that are necessary to make this possible are already available”, he added, “the signals of hope are multiplying. Public opinion is waking up everywhere. Young people are showing remarkable leadership and mobilization.”

Meanwhile, Oxfam released a report noting that climate-fuelled disasters such as floods, cyclones and wildfires were the number-one driver of internal displacement over the last decade, forcing more than 20 million people a year from their homes.

Asia is the continent most affected, said Oxfam, while Small Island Developing States make up seven of the 10 countries where people face the highest risk of being displaced by extreme weather events. In another report released today, Save the Children said the climate crisis was contributing to at least 33 million people in East and Southern Africa facing emergency levels of food insecurity.

The Madrid Climate Change Conference is bringing the world together to decide on the next crucial steps in the UN climate change process and consider ways to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Taking place from 2 to 16 December, the Conference comes at a time when new data shows that the climate emergency is getting worse every day, and is impacting people’s lives everywhere, whether from extreme heat, air pollution, wildfires, intensified flooding, or droughts. The Secretary-General announced on Sunday that the current head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, is to become the UN’s new Special Envoy for Climate Action, replacing former New York Mayor and billionaire philanthropist, Michael Bloomberg, who resigned after embarking on a US presidential run.  (@OnuItalia)