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There is an exit from ‘the highway to climate hell’, emphasizes Guterres – Global Issues


Choosing the iconic Family room of ocean life At the American Museum of Natural History in New York, António Guterres, making his impassioned plea to understand the solutions at hand, warned that we are at “a moment of truth.”

“In the case of climate, we are not the dinosaurs. We are the meteor. That’s not just us in danger – us Are the danger. But we are also the solution.”

Citing the latest report from the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service showing that last month was the warmest May on record, the UN chief said global emissions must fall by nine percent every year to meet the temperature rise limit of 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels.

Last year they rose by one percent.

The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Also reported on Wednesday that there is an 80 percent chance of reaching the 1.5℃ limit – the target set in the Paris Agreement in 2015 – will be adopted in one of the next five years.

We are playing Russian roulette with our planet”, said Mr Guterres. “We need an exit off the highway to climate hell. And the truth is: we are in control.”

18 months to save the world

Pulling back from the brink “is still as good as it gets,” he continued, but only if we fight harder. It all depends on the decisions that political leaders make during this decade and “especially in the next eighteen months.”

“The need for climate action is unprecedented, but so are the opportunities – not only to deliver on climate, but also on economic prosperity and sustainable development,” Mr Guterres explained.

A matter of degrees

He said a half-degree difference in global warming could mean some island nations or coastal communities disappear forever.

Scientists indicate that the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could collapse and cause catastrophic sea level rise. Entire coral reef systems could disappear along with 300 million livelihoods – if the 1.5℃ target is not met.

Extreme weather from East Asia to the US west coast has been fueled by climate chaos “destroying lives, devastating economies and affecting health,” the Secretary General said.

Fossil fuel mafia

As billions around the world see their lives become more expensive due to climate change, the Godfathers of climate chaos – the fossil fuel conglomerates – are “raking in record profits and enjoying trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies,” he exclaimed.

He said many in the oil and gas industry have been “shamelessly greenwashing” while actively trying to delay climate action, aided by advertising and PR companies.

Plea for an oil and gas ban

“I call on these companies to stop acting as catalysts for planetary destruction. Starting today, stop taking on new fossil fuel customers and make plans to drop your existing customers”, said the Secretary General.

Creative minds in the industry are already focused on saving the planet and not helping to destroy it, he added.

Mr. Guterres called on every country in the world to ban advertising from fossil fuel companies.

Salvation is near

Beyond the Toxic Companies”we have what we need to save ourselves‘ he assured the crowd gathered near New York’s Central Park.

Forests and oceans continue to absorb harmful carbon and must be protected. The renewable energy sector is booming globally as costs plummet and now account for 30 percent of global electricity supply.

Meanwhile, investment in clean energy reached a record high last year, almost doubling in the past decade, the UN chief said.

“Economic logic makes the end of the fossil fuel era inevitable,” he added.

Action stations

To ensure the safest possible future for humanity and the planet, he outlined the urgent action that must be taken:

  • Reduce emissions
  • Protect people and nature against climate extremes
  • Boost climate finance
  • Keep the fossil fuel sector under control

The greatest burden for action should fall on the shoulders of the richest countries and the biggest emitters: “Advanced G20 economies must go the furthest and fastest,” while also providing technical and financial support to developing countries.

The Secretary-General called on national climate action plans to align with the 1.5℃ limit and include absolute emissions reduction targets for 2030, 2035 and all global milestones in the coming decades.

Every country must assume and fulfill its rightful role. We need collaboration, not finger pointing”, stated Mr Guterres.

In terms of climate justice, he said it is a shame that the most vulnerable countries are left stranded with the consequences of a climate crisis that they did nothing about.

“We cannot accept a future where the wealthy are sheltered in air-conditioned bubbles while the rest of humanity is ravaged by deadly weather in unlivable countries.”

Fairer climate finance and an end to the crippling debt and high interest rates that many developing countries face are not a matter of charity, he added, but of “enlightened self-interest.”

All-in for climate action

“Climate financing is not a favor. It is a fundamental element for a livable future for all,” he said.

People all over the world are ‘way ahead of the politicians. Let your voice be heard and your choices count,” he implored.

No country or institution can solve the climate crisis alone. “This is an all-in moment. The United Nations is committed to building trust, finding solutions and inspiring the cooperation our world so desperately needs,” the Secretary-General said.

He thanked the climate activists at all levels of society who have pushed for action so far: “You are on the right side of history. You speak for the majority. Keep it up; don’t lose heart, don’t lose hope.”

He said it is now”We, the People, versus the polluters and profiteers‘ and united ‘we can win’.

“Now is the time to mobilize, now is the time to act, now is the time to deliver. This is our moment of truth.”

You can follow our ongoing live coverage of this important speech from the American Museum of Natural History here.

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