Mon 21 March 2022:
According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the world is “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe”, with major economies permitting carbon pollution to rise while substantial reductions are required.
He told a sustainability conference in London on Monday that the planet-saving objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is now “on life support.”
Guterres’ remarks come just hours before the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) begins a two-week conference to validate a landmark report on carbon pollution reduction and CO2 extraction from the atmosphere.
The report is expected to conclude that CO2 emissions must peak within a few years if the Paris temperature targets are to be met.
Guterres described Covid recovery spending as “scandalously uneven” and a missed opportunity to accelerate the turn toward clean energy.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, he added, could further derail climate action with importers locking in fossil fuel dependence as they scramble to replace Russian oil and gas.
Continued rise in emissions
Keeping 1.5C in play requires a 45 percent drop in emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century, according to the IPCC.
But even if nations honour newly revised pledges under the Paris Agreement, emissions are still set to rise 14 percent before the decade ends.
“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap (climate) policies,” Guterres said.
Last year, the international International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that any new oil or gas developments, as well as new coal-fired power plants, would be incompatible with a 1.5C world.
Unlike previous UN Secretary-Generals, Guterres singled out Australia and a “handful of holdouts” for failing to spell out “meaningful” near-term measures to reduce emissions.
According to Guterres, wealthy countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) must phase out coal by 2030, while all other countries must do so by 2040.
He went on to say that rich countries should offer money, technology, and know-how to help emerging economies get rid of coal from their energy portfolios, pointing to a ground-breaking deal for South Africa announced at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last November.
FOLLOW INDEPENDENT PRESS:
TWITTER (CLICK HERE)
FACEBOOK (CLICK HERE)
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!