Choose hope or climate surrender, says UN chief

James Marshall
December 2, 2019

UN leaders and delegates arrived at COP25 on Monday in Madrid to begin a two-week summit on climate change, amid dire warnings from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the fast-rising perils of a global environmental challenge.

In order to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, emissions need to be slashed by almost half by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

"Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand?"

"Those who don't want to see it will be on the wrong side of history", said Schmidt, who is chairing the meeting.

The summit, which moved from Chile following anti-government protests, aims to establish an worldwide strategy to cut greenhouse gases and address the climate crisis.

That involves creating a functioning worldwide emissions-trading system and compensating poor countries for losses they suffer from rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.

Emissions from coal alone would greatly hamper global efforts to meet the target of two degrees Celsius and is almost double the limit required to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, found the Production Gap Report published by the United Nations last month. Already, average temperatures have increased by about 1C, leaving little room for the more ambitious target to be met.

Pacific countries will be trying to apply as much pressure as possible in the latest round of United Nations climate talks, says the director of the Cook Islands climate change office.

Science says the collective ambition of countries needs to increase by more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade. He also emphasized the need for "more ambitious national commitments" to reduce emissions-especially from major polluters-and stressed that such commitments should "include a just transition for people whose jobs and livelihoods are affected as we move from the grey to the green economy".

"The impact on all life on the planet - including ours - would be catastrophic", he added.

Except for the European Union's newly sworn-in leadership, which was due to begin a five-year term by paying a visit to the summit, the rest of the world's largest carbon emitters - the United States, China and India - are sending ministerial or lower-level officials to the meeting. However, that won't be technically completed until November 4, 2020.

However, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi will be present, leading a congressional delegation.

"We're still in it", Pelosi said. Spain's interim prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said Monday that "only a handful of fanatics deny the evidence" of climate change. And maybe four: "science, again".

"Our war against nature must stop, and we know that it is possible", Mr Guterres said on Sunday ahead of the December 2-13 summit.

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Other reports by Click Lancashire

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