UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has cautioned against humanity’s “war” on the environment Wednesday, in a speech on the state of the planet – By Gerald Gekara
“We are facing a devastating pandemic, new heights of global heating, new lows of ecological degradation and new setbacks in our work towards global goals for more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development,” Guterres said in the address, delivered at Columbia University in New York.
Two authoritative new reports — one from the World Meteorological Organization and the other from the United Nations Environment Programme — spell out how close we are to climate catastrophe.
Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80% of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020, it said, and Arctic sea ice for July and October 2020 was the lowest on record.
And climate policies around the world “have yet to rise to the challenge,” Guterres said.
As nations seek to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic, it is time to “flick the green switch” and transform the world economy into a sustainable one driven by renewable energy, Guterres said, for the sake of future generations who will be paying for it.
Guterres set out three main priorities on climate change: first, achieving global carbon neutrality within the next three decades; second, aligning global finance behind the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1. 5˚C; and third, focusing effort and money on seeking breakthroughs to help the world adapt to a changing climate and build resilience to future changes.
There have been “worrying signs” that some countries are using the crisis caused by the pandemic to roll back environmental protections, while others are expanding their exploitation of natural resources, Guterres said.