By Stefan J. Bos
U.N. Secretary-General Guterres warned world leaders in Katowice, Poland that the world is "way off course" in its plan to prevent what he views as catastrophic climate change.
He made clear that the political will to fight climate change has faded since the 2015 conference in Paris which set ambitious goals for reducing carbon gas emissions.
And the UN leader said this could have severe consequences for humanity. "It is plain we are way off course. We need more action and more ambition. And we have absolutely to close this emissions gap," he said.
“If we fail, the Arctic and Antarctic will continue to melt, corals will bleach and then 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,” Guterres added in his address.
Famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough went even further. The British television presenter of nature documentaries said human civilization may collapse unless the world takes action to curb climate change. "Right now we face a man-made disaster of a global scale," he said.
Collapse of civilisation?
"Our greatest threat in thousands of years is climate change. If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon," the presenter warned.
He urged the delegates meeting in Poland until December 14 to make progress on efforts to implement the 2015 Paris accord fighting climate change.
The Paris conference set the goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by 2100. But several delegates believe climate change is “running faster than expected” with “terrible consequences for the people.”
However, demands to curb gas emissions globally are easier made than done. The United States is pulling out of the international climate treaty signed in Paris. And Poland’s President Andrzej Duda already made clear Monday that his coal-reliant nation hosting the climate gathering has no plans to entirely remove this fossil fuel, which it has in abundance, from its energy mix
Duda said coal was Poland’s “strategic fossil fuel” guaranteeing its energy security and sovereignty and “it would be hard not to use it.”