By Robin Gomes
“If we do not take action on climate change now, these extreme weather events are just the tip of the iceberg. And that iceberg is also rapidly melting.”
The grim warning came from the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, after data showed June 2019 to be the hottest month ever.
June – hottest month ever
Briefing reporters on Thursday at the UN Headquarters in New York, in view of the UN’s upcoming Climate Action Summit next month, he remarked that while there have always been hot summers, this is “not the summer of our youth”, but a climate emergency.
According to data from the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), June 2019 went on record to be the hottest month ever. New data from WMO and the Copernicus Climate Change Programme showed July at least equalled, if not surpassed June, and 2015 to 2019 are likely to be the five hottest years on record.
Turning to the Climate Action Summit, slated for 23 September in New York, Guterres said that the ticket to entry – for governments, business and civil society – is “bold action and much greater ambition”.
This will be needed if the world is to limit temperature increases to 1.5C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, by cutting 45 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
We have solutions and technologies
“Beautiful speeches”, he said, are just not enough. Leaders need to come to New York on September 23 with concrete plans to reach these goals.
According to Guterres, the good news is that we have solutions and technologies that many governments, businesses and citizens around the world are mobilizing to confront the climate crisis.
Today, technology is able to deliver renewable energy at a much lower cost than the fossil-fuel driven economy. Solar and wind power are now the cheapest sources of new energy in virtually all major economies.
Norway is divesting funds, worth €1 trillion, away from fossil fuels. Chile, Finland, the UK, the Marshall Islands and others have adopted concrete plans to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century.
Tree-planting campaigns in many countries are trying to reinforce climate resilience and financial agencies are pricing carbon risks into financial decisions.
“We need a rapid and deep change in how we do business, generate power, build cities and feed the world,” Guterres said.