UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday climate change is an absolute priority and the world is not doing enough.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment,” Guterres told an informal high-level leaders dialogue on climate change on the sidelines of the high-level week of this year’s UN General Assembly.
“Many times journalists ask me what are my priorities. I always say we have many priorities in the UN… but I would say that this (climate change) is the absolute priority.”
The Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to keep the increase to 1.5 degrees if possible, represents the bare minimum to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, said Guterres.
The Paris Agreement commitment was universal. But the world is nowhere close to where it needs to be to meet these minimum targets, said Guterres. “Climate change is indeed running faster than we are, and we have the risk to see irreversible damage that will not be possible to recover if we don’t act very, very quickly.”
According to a UN study, the commitments made so far by parties to the Paris Agreement represent just one-third of what is needed, he noted.
“We need to do more and we need to do it quicker: we need more ambition and accelerated action by 2020. If we do not reverse the current trend of emissions by 2020, it may be impossible to meet the 1.5 degree goal.”