The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has expressed alarm at the breakneck pace of climate change and deplored its harmful consequences. He called for accelerated international mobilization, including the convening of a Climate Change Summit in 2019.
"Science demands it. The global economy needs it. The livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people depend on it. Food security, health, stability itself are at stake." Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
António Guterres reviewed the sad records set in 2017, noting that no continent was spared. Last year, for example, the bill for climate-related disasters reached $320 billion. In the Caribbean, the hurricane season was more costly than ever. In South Asia, monsoon flooding affected 41 million people. In Africa, 900,000 people were driven from their homes by a severe drought.
"Fossil fuel consumption increased last year, accounting for 70% of the growth in global energy demand. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide are the highest in 800,000 years," argued the UN boss, before observing that "the oceans are warmer and more acidic than at any time in history."
To meet these challenges, the Secretary General urged States to continue their efforts and investments to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to achieve a further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25% by 2020.
Recalling the staggering costs of inaction and deploring the huge subsidies for fossil fuels that are hampering the energy transition, Antonio Guterres estimated that climate change is still progressing much faster than we are. So, he concluded, "the world must rise above itself through political will, innovation, financing and partnerships."