Climate Action Summit : UNSG Presents Startling Revelations, Calls For Increased Climate Financing

Antonio Guterres was emphatic when he opened the Climate Action Summit at the UN headquarters in New York, September 23.

“Nature is angry. And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. Because nature always strikes back. And around the world, nature is striking back with fury,” went the opening statements of Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations when he opened the UN Climate Summit at the headquarters of the organisation  in New York on September 23. To buttress the point, he said July 2019 was “the hottest month ever; June through August — the hottest summer in the Northern hemisphere ever; and the second hottest winter in the Southern hemisphere ever,” adding  that the period spanning 2015 to 2019 were the five hottest years on the books ever.

The UN official also pointed to rising sea levels and acidifying of oceans, melting glaciers, spreading droughts, burning wildfires, expanding deserts, shortage of potable water, raging storms, heatwaves and multiplication of natural disasters as climate emergencies that need immediate action. 

 “I have seen it with my own eyes – from Dominica to the Sahel to the South Pacific. In May, I went to the island nation of Tuvalu where I witnessed an entire country fighting for its very existence against the rising seas. Two months ago, I visited Mozambique which was pummelled by unprecedented back-to-back cyclones. A few days ago, I was in the Bahamas, where Hurricane Dorian pounded the country for two unrelenting days. The destruction was not simply appalling.  It was apocalyptic,” said Guterres.

He however noted that he is hopeful things can change for the better if participants in the summit commit to play their roles. “And I am hopeful because of you...Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future. Financial actors are here to scale-up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways. And coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050,” said he.

He noted that his generation has failed in its responsibility to protect the planet and is losing a race it can win - the climate emergency race. “We have the tools: technology is on our side. Readily-available technological substitutions already exist for more than 70 per cent of today's emissions. And we have the road map: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. And we have the imperative:  undeniable, irrefutable science,” he stated, pointing out that the best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, shows any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems. “But science also tells us it is not too late.  We can do it.  Limiting warming to 1.5 ºC is still possible. But it will require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society—how we grow food, use land, fuel our transport and power our economies. 

He suggested that climate change should be linked to a new model of development – a fair globalization –  with less suffering, more justice and harmony between people and planet.

Going by the UNSG, it is more than ever necessary to accelerate climate financing, replenish the Green Fund,  and for developed countries to respect their pledges to contribute $100 billion annually by 2020 to support climate adaptation efforts in developing countries

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