THE United Nations secretary general said countries must cut global carbon emissions by 45 percent this decade to ward off the worst effects of the environmental crisis.
Reacting to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report yesterday, which noted emissions must be drastically reduced, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said the “damning verdict” by scientists is evidence the world is on a fast track to climate disaster.
He said this will cause major cities to be under water; unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms; widespread water shortages and the extinction of a million species of plants and animals.
“This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies,” he said.
“We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris. Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic. This is a climate emergency.”
The UN official said climate scientists warn that the world is “perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts”.
He said world leaders and officials left COP26 in Glasgow with a “naïve optimism, based on new promises and commitments” but said the main problem of a growing emissions gap was all but ignored.
“The science is clear,” he continued. “To keep the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris within reach, we need to cut global emissions by 45 percent this decade. But current climate pledges would mean a 14 percent increase in emissions. And most major emitters are not taking the steps needed to fulfil even these inadequate promises.”
The report said global renewable energy policies must be strengthenend so the world does not surpass the 1.5 degree-Celsius threshold.
Mr Guterres said this means the world must “triple the speed of the shift to renewable energy”, which in most cases is “far cheaper” than fossil fuels.
“Today’s report comes at a time of global turbulence,” he said. “Inequalities are at unprecedented levels. The recovery from the COVID- 19 pandemic is scandalously uneven.
“Inflation is rising, and the war in Ukraine is causing food and energy prices to skyrocket.
“But increasing fossil fuel production will only make matters worse. Choices made by countries now will make or break the commitment to 1.5 degrees.
“A shift to renewables will mend our broken global energy mix and offer hope to millions of people suffering climate impacts today. Climate promises and plans must be turned into reality and action, now.
“It is time to stop burning our planet, and start investing in the abundant renewable energy all around us.”