By Stefan J. Bos
Speaking in the Spanish capital Madrid, Guterres had a grim warning. He said the impact of rising temperatures — including more extreme weather, is already being felt around the world. "We are confronted now with a global climate crisis. And the point of no return is no longer over the horizon, it is in sight and hurtling towards us," he said.
With several countries facing severe flooding and massive wildfires, the UN chief condemned world leaders for what he views as a lack of political will to tackle global warming. "Let's be clear until now out efforts to reach these targets have been utterly inadequate. The commitments made in Paris would still lead to an increase in temperatures above three degrees celsius. But many countries are not even meeting those commitments," the UN leader noted.
"What is still lacking is political will," Guterres complained, adding that this should include "putting a price on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions."
In a warning to oil and natural gas giants, Guterres demanded that governments end subsidies of fossil fuels. He also told them to stop building coal-powered plants from next year.
And, the UN chief addressed concerns that the proposed climate policies will be too expensive and bankrupt nations. He said it was time to tax the significant polluters instead of the people.
Despite the reported climate difficulties, Guterres remained somewhat hopeful.
He suggested there are scientific knowledge and the technical means to limit global warming and prevent the extinction of humanity and other species. "We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions," he stressed.
Delegates from almost 200 countries now will try to put the finishing touches on the rules governing the earlier 2015 Paris climate accord.
But not everyone sends crucial leaders to the 25th Conference of Parties gathering, also known as COP25. Some nations viewed as the world's largest carbon emitters — the United States, China, and India — will be represented by ministers or lower-level officials.
The US administration of President Donald Trump has also announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Trump is among those expressing doubts about the human impact on climate change.
The COP25 summit, which runs through December 13th, comes after the UN claimed that greenhouse gas emissions rose to new highs last year.
UN Chief Warns Of Global Climate Emergency At Summit
By Stefan J. Bos