Climate Change: Act or perish, Guterres to world leaders

“We can either save our world or condemn humanity to a hellish future,” is how the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned the Ministers at the PreCOP26 held at Milan in Italy.

With the UN’s annual climate change talks less than a month away, Ministers from about 50-60 countries have gathered at Milan to develop a better understanding of how to resolve some of the remaining crunch issues ahead of the crucial climate conference in Glasgow in the UK.

Guterres touched upon all aspects of the climate negotiations in his small address at the opening of the PreCOP26 late on Thursday India time, a United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) statement said. It is the UNFCCC that holds the Conference of Parties (COP) each year.

Applauding those nations, especially vulnerable developing countries, that have come forward with more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — actions at country-level that would total to combined actions helping to restrict global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial era — despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Guterres said, “But we can only meet the 1.5-degree goal if all G20 countries, which are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions, pledge more decisive action in new or updated NDCs.”

“The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the light of national circumstances is a pillar of the Paris Agreement,” he said, a point he has reiterated time and again in recent months.

Stating that he cannot “emphasize enough that time is running out,” the Secretary General said, “That is why, I am asking all nations to enhance NDCs and domestic policies as often as necessary and without delay until we are collectively on the right track.”

Coming down heavily on the missing finance for adaptation and mitigation, he said, six years since the Paris Agreement, 2015, “we are nowhere close.”

“Adaptation remains the neglected half of the climate equation, accounting for only 25 per cent of climate finance in support of developing countries. Even worse, adaptation represents only 0.1 per cent of private funding.”

He then repeated his call to donors and multilateral development banks to allocate at least 50 per cent of their climate support towards adaptation and resilience.

Guterres ended with reminding the world how “young people, in particular, continue to lead the growing calls for more ambition. They will hold us accountable” and asserted: “Climate justice demands that we bequeath them a liveable planet.”