UN chief says world is 'sleepwalking to climate catastrophe'

The world is "sleepwalking to climate catastrophe" and the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius is now on "life support," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Economist Sustainability Summit on Monday.

According to the top UN official, while some progress was made at COP26 last year, "the enormous emissions gap" underscored the fact that "the main problem was not solved - it was not even properly addressed."

"Keeping 1.5 alive requires a 45-percent reduction in global emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century," he said.

According to current national commitments, however, global emissions are set to increase by almost 14 percent during the rest of the decade.

Last year alone, global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 6 percent "to their highest levels in history," Guterres said, as coal emissions surged "to record highs."

"In our globally connected world, no country and no corporation, can insulate itself from these levels of chaos."

Noting that developed and emerging G20 economies account for 80 percent of all global emissions, he drew attention to a high dependence on coal but underscored that "our planet can't afford a climate blame game."

Referring to developed countries, Guterres said that they must not put the onus on emerging economies to accelerate their transition nor must emerging economies respond by saying, "you exported carbon-intensive heavy industrial activities to us in return for cheaper goods."

"We can't point fingers while the planet burns," the secretary-general stressed.

"Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use," Guterres insisted. "This is madness."

As fossil fuels reliance continues to put the global economy and energy security at the mercy of geopolitical shocks and crises, the timeline to cut emissions by 45 percent is extremely tight, he said.

"Developed countries, multilateral development banks, private financial institutions and companies with the technical know-how – all need to join forces ... to deliver support at scale and with speed to coal-intensive economies," he added.

Developed and emerging economies must cooperate with each other for all G20 countries to deliver emission reductions, he said.

The secretary-general also said that "even the most ambitious action" cannot erase the fact that "the situation is already bad" and in some places irreversible.

"Adaptation and mitigation must be pursued with equal force and urgency. ... Adaptation investments need to be dramatically scaled up to keep pace with accelerating impacts," he said, calling on all donors and technical partners to work with the UN and vulnerable governments to identify and fund projects and programs.

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Source(s): Xinhua News Agency

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