UN Chief Sounds Warning on Climate Change

UN Chief Sounds Warning on Climate ChangeUN Chief Sounds Warning on Climate Change

None of the world's challenges loom as large as climate change, the United Nations chief told a major climate action summit on Tuesday, reiterating his belief that global warming poses an "existential threat" to humanity.

Both leadership and innovation are essential for climate action, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his keynote address to the global gathering, known as the R20 Austrian World Summit—a long-term initiative to help regions, states and cities implement the Sustainable Development Goals and meet the Paris Agreement targets, UN news portal reported.

Guterres spelled out, "We must use all our resources to build a sense of urgency … to raise ambition, while keeping temperature rises in the years ahead, as close to 1.5° Celsius as possible."

  Groundswell of Action

He said there was reason to hope, declaring that "the world is seeing a groundswell of climate action",  citing examples, including Morocco's building of a solar farm "the size of Paris, that will power over a million homes by 2020" and China's achievement in already passing its 2020 goal of producing 105 gigawatts of solar power capacity.

"Investments in clean, green infrastructure need to be scaled up globally," he explained. "For that, we need leadership from the finance and investment community and by local, regional and national governments who will decide on major infrastructure plans over the coming years." Guterres encouraged private sector leaders attending the UN General Assembly-backed summit in the Austrian capital to announce new financing for clean energy projects.

  Need for More

While the 30-member independent International Energy Agency estimates that 2017 investments in renewable electricity amounted to $242 billion, that was still far less than the funds invested in new fossil fuel development.

"Billions of dollars more needs to be invested in renewables if we are to see a 'full-scale transition to clean energy' by 2020," said Guterres. Moreover, some 75% of the infrastructure needed by 2050 has still not been built.

"Mobilizing and equipping local governments with the capacity and financing to accelerate climate action is necessary if we are to bend the emissions curve," he maintained.

Guterres regretted that climate change continues to move faster than climate action.

"But," he added, "it does not have to be that way," pointing to solar, wind and cutting-edge technologies, such as electric vehicles or energy from algae in the ocean, which promises a new era of clean air. "Let's join a race to the top, a race where there are only winners," concluded the secretary-general.


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