UNITED NATIONS, Dec 12 (APP): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Saturday urged every country to declare a “state of climate emergency”, while speaking at a global summit coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement.
The state of emergency should remain in place until carbon neutrality is achieved, meaning that no more additional greenhouse gases are being pumped into the Earth’s atmosphere, Guterres said on launching the “Climate Ambition Summit”, an online conference attended by leaders from around the world, including Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The United Nations, Britain and France are co-hosting the summit.
Guterres described the situation as “dramatic”, saying that current commitments across the globe did not go “far from enough” to limit temperature rises.
In Paris in 2015, states promised to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius as much as possible, Guterres said.
But he pointed out that the pledges made to meet that goal were insufficient, and in some cases were themselves being ignored.
The UN chief warned that if the global community does not change course, the globe may be headed towards a “catastrophic” temperature increase of more than 3 degrees this century.
“Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?” Guterres said. “That is why today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”
The UN chief said economic recovery packages launched in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic represented an opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future — but warned so much more needs to be done to ward off catastrophic consequences.
“So far, the members of the G20 are spending 50% more in their stimulus and rescue packages on sectors linked to fossil fuel production and consumption, than on low-carbon energy,” Guterres said.
“This is unacceptable. The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations,” he said. “We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet,” he added.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that by 2030, 60 per cent of all energy produced in the country will be “clean” and through renewable resources. “Thirty per cent of all the country’s vehicles will use electricity,” he added.
China’s President Xi Jinping said his country will boost its installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1,200 gigawatts over the next decade.
Xi also said China will increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25% during the same period. And “China always honors its commitments,” Xi promised.
More than 110 countries have already committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
“The summit is a major step on the road to the next UN Climate Conference, COP26, which will be hosted by the UK next November in Glasgow,” according o an official statement released ahead of Saturday’s summit.
The Paris accord, adopted in 2015 and signed a year later, is designed to boost greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation worldwide.
Its main goals include keeping the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees in a bid to reduce the impact and risks of climate change.
The last five years have been the warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation, a UN agency, with concern at rising numbers of wildfires, storms and flooding.
The UN has said that the drop in emissions due to the global coronavirus pandemic is too small to halt the rising temperatures.
The United States, the world’s second-largest polluter after China, left the Paris Agreement under President Donald Trump who questioned the accepted science behind climate change.
Incoming US climate envoy John Kerry plans immediately to re-enter the accord and President-elect Joe Biden has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
The summit – seen as one of the last chances to set the world on track to meet the Paris accord – will now take place in person in November 2021.
“My message to you all is that together we can use scientific advances to protect our entire planet, our biosphere against a challenge far worse, far more destructive than coronavirus,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the summit.
Johnson said the pandemic was an opportunity to create thousands of jobs by way of a green recovery,