Guterres warns climate crisis has reached “no point of return”

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Sunday of the devastating effects of global warming threatening humanity and said the “point of no return” was before the world.

“People have been fighting a war against the planet for decades, and now the planet is fighting humans,” he told a press conference ahead of the climate summit in Madrid, criticizing “absolutely inadequate” efforts by major economic powers to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

“We are facing a global climate crisis, and the point of no return is not far away.

Guterres cited a UN report on Tuesday that said the past five years have been the warmest in the world, and 2019 is likely to be the second highest.

“Climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent, violent, deadly and destructive,” he said on the eve of the COP25 Climate Change Conference, which brings together 196 countries.

Human health and food security are at risk, he said, noting that air pollution linked to climate change kills seven million people every year.

The Paris agreement calls for reducing global warming by less than two degrees Celsius, but recent research has shown that the world’s aspirations to reach the 1.5 degrees threshold is safer.

A report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) last week concluded that carbon dioxide emissions would need to be cut substantially by 7.6 percent annually over the next decade to stay within that limit.

But Guterres said a 1.5-degree target was achievable. The only thing missing to achieve that was political will.

“Let us be clear. So far, our efforts to reach this goal have never been sufficient. The biggest emitters of the environment are not doing their best.”

He said that if the current commitments made by the countries, the global temperature will rise by at least 3 degrees Celsius, which scientists say will cause human misery.

Guterres’s comments were clearly addressed to a number of countries responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions, although he did not name them.

US President Donald Trump launched the process that will see the United States withdraw from the Paris Accord by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a US congressional delegation to the Madrid conference, which the Spanish government included as heads of state and dignitaries.

“We want to give every opportunity for the United States to remain part of the commitments in the fight against climate change,” a spokesman for the prime minister’s office told AFP.

Major greenhouse gas emitters – China, India, Russia and Brazil – have provided few signs that they will increase their commitments in the near term.

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