Addiction to fossil fuels pushes humanity to the brink – UN chief

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General has said that addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink in a speech on the second day of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP26), taking place in Glasgow. Guterres said that the six years since the Paris Climate Agreement was […]

Addiction to fossil fuels pushes humanity to the brink – UN chief
António Guterres

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General has said that addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink in a speech on the second day of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP26), taking place in Glasgow.

Guterres said that the six years since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, has been the hottest on record.

”We face a stark choice: Either we stop it — or it stops us. It’s time to say: enough.

”Enough of brutalizing biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves,” he said.

Guterres warned that the planet is changing before our eyes — from the ocean depths to mountain tops; from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events. Sea-level rise is double the rate it was 30 years ago. Oceans are hotter than ever — and getting warmer faster. Parts of the Amazon Rainforest now emit more carbon than they absorb.

Sounding pessimistic, the UN chief said that recent climate action announcements might give the impression that the world is on track to turn things around is an illusion.

The last published report on Nationally Determined Contributions showed that they would still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7degree increase, he said.

Read also: COP26: Major world leaders set to miss crucial talks to avert climate disaster

”And even if the recent pledges were clear and credible — and there are serious questions about some of them — we are still careening towards climate catastrophe. Even in the best-case scenario, temperatures will rise well above two degrees.

So, as we open this much-anticipated climate conference, we are still heading for climate disaster. Young people know it. Every country sees it. Small Island Developing States — and other vulnerable ones — live it.

For them, failure is not an option. Failure is a death sentence.

Guterres told world leaders that humanity fast approaching tipping points that will trigger escalating feedback loops of global heating and investing in the net-zero, climate-resilient economy will create a path to sustainable growth, jobs and opportunity.

He also highlighted that the efforts of countries and organisations in this regard.

”A number of countries have made credible commitments to net-zero emissions by mid-century.

”Many have pulled the plug on international financing of coal.

Over 700 cities are leading the way to carbon neutrality.

The private sector is waking up.

”The Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance — the gold standard for credible commitments and transparent targets — is managing $10 trillion in assets and catalyzing change across industries.

He acknowledged the activism of young people he called ‘climate action army who he said are not going away.

He urged world leaders to take action to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. “This requires greater ambition on mitigation and immediate concrete action to reduce global emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

“G20 countries have a particular responsibility as they represent around 80 percent of emissions. According to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in light of national circumstances, developed countries must lead the effort.

”But emerging economies, too, must go the extra mile, as their contribution is essential for the effective reduction of emissions.

We need maximum ambition – from all countries on all fronts – to make Glasgow a success.

He urged developed countries and emerging economies to build coalitions to create the financial and technological conditions to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy as well as the phase out of coal.

He called revisions of climate commitments yearly if it falls short until subsidies to fossil fuels end and coal is phased out.

“There is a deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net-zero targets, with different meanings and different metrics.

”That is why – beyond the mechanisms already established in the Paris Agreement – I am announcing today that I will establish a Group of Experts to propose clear standards to measure and analyze net-zero commitments from non-state actors.

”Second, we must do more to protect vulnerable communities from the clear and present dangers of climate change. Over the last decade, nearly 4 billion people suffered climate-related disasters.

That devastation will only grow,” he said.

The UN chief called for adaptation, early warning systems and climate-smart agriculture and infrastructure which can save jobs.

“All donors must allocate half their climate finance to adaptation.

And public and multilateral development banks should start as soon as possible,” he said.

He said the $100 billion a year climate finance commitment in support of developing countries must become a $100 billion climate finance reality.

”This is critical to restoring trust and credibility,” he said.