Climate crisis alarm ‘ringing at fever pitch’, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres warns

Comments come just weeks before start of climate talks in Glasgow

Thomas Kingsley
Tuesday 21 September 2021 18:19
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Related video: UN secretary general delivers opening speech at general assembly

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has said the alarm over climate change is now “ringing at a fever pitch” during a speech to world leaders gathered in New York.

“We see warning signs in every continent and region, scorching temperatures, shocking biodiversity loss, polluted air, water and natural spaces, climate related disasters at every turn,” Mr Guterres said.

The Portuguese official added that emissions would have to be cut by 45 per cent by 2030 to keep temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels - the pledge made by over 190 nations in the Paris Agreement.

Mr Guterres said, however, that the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report by the UN made clear that with present national climate commitments emissions will go up 16 per cent by 2030.

“That would commit us to a hellscape of temperature rises of 2.7C above pre-industrial levels: a catastrophe,” he added.

The Cop26 in Glasgow is only weeks away, but the world is “light-years away from reaching our targets”, Mr Guterres said.

He urged leaders not to wait for others to make the first move but to do their part, and called for action to cut emissions, provide finance for poorer countries and efforts to help people adapt to inevitable climate change.

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