UN chief calls on world to back Paris climate deal

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NEW YORK, May 31 (APP): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on leaders of government, business, and civil society to back the Paris climate change agreement and take actions to slow down global warming.
In his first major speech on climate action, which came as President
Donald Trump debates whether to withdraw US from the accord, Guterres promised that he will intensify high-level political engagement to “raise the bar” on climate action.
The secretary-general never mentioned the American leader by name during his speech on Tuesday at New York University’s Stern School of Business, but in response to a question afterward said that the United Nations believes “it would be important for the US not to leave the Paris agreement.”
Even if Trump withdraws, Guterres said, “it’s very important for US
society as a whole – the cities, the states, the companies, the businesses – to remain engaged.”
Trump, who was critical of the deal during his campaign for the
presidency, is expected to make an announcement this week on whether the United States will remain a party to the climate accord that his predecessor, Barack Obama, strongly supported and signed.
Nearly 200 nations agreed in 2015 to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As of Tuesday, 147 nations had ratified the Paris Agreement, representing more than 82 percent of global emissions, the UN chief said.
Guterres said their pledges to limit the global temperature rise to
below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius “are historic – but still do not go nearly far enough to limit temperature rise.”
First, Guterres said he will immediately press for ratification of the
Kigali Amendment agreed to in October by nearly 200 nations on limiting the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide that are depleting the ozone layer.
Unlike the Paris Agreement, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal
Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is legally binding.
It caps and reduces the use of HFCs in a gradual process starting with
action by developed countries in 2019, including the United States, the world’s second-worst polluter, and then by over 100 developing countries starting in 2024, including China, the world’s top carbon emitter.
Guterres said he will also rally countries to raise the bar on efforts
to limit temperature rise and the United Nations system to promote climate action.
The secretary-general also pledged to work with developing countries to mobilize resources to tackle the impact of climate change and strengthen efforts by small island states against “the existential threat” that global warming poses.
He said he will strengthen North-South, South-South and other
partnerships to implement the Paris Agreement.
The secretary general announced that he intends to hold a climate summit in 2019 to review implementation of the Paris Agreement.
“The journey from Paris is well underway,” Guterres said. “The support
across all sectors of society is profound. The transition in the real economy is a fact. There will be bumps along the path … but with everyone’s participation, the world can bring the Paris Agreement fully to life.”