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‘We are treating nature like a toilet’: UN chief says humanity is ‘weapon of mass extinction’

António Guterres told Cop 15 delegates we are ‘committing suicide by proxy’

Samuel Webb
Tuesday 06 December 2022 20:40 GMT
Biden heckled by protesters during Cop27 speech

The UN Secretary-General says humanity is a “weapon of mass extinction” that is “hellbent on destruction”.

Speaking at the opening of Cop15 in Montreal, Canada, António Guterres told delegates at the biodiversity-focused event that there must be “no excuses, no delays” for measures that will prevent the global population from “waging war on nature”.

António Guterres addressing Cop15 in Canada (AP)

He said: “We are out of harmony with nature. In fact, we are playing an entirely different song.

“Around the world, for hundreds of years, we have conducted a cacophony of chaos, played with instruments of destruction. Deforestation and desertification are creating wastelands of once-thriving ecosystems.

“Our land, water and air are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides, and choked with plastics. Our addiction to fossil fuels has thrown our climate into chaos — from heatwaves and forest fires, to communities parched by heat and drought, or inundated and destroyed by terrifying floods.”

The UN chief says the Cop15 meeting must result in humanity making peace with the natural world, instead of destroying it in the pursuit of profit.

“Multinational corporations are filling their bank accounts while emptying our world of its natural gifts,” he added.

“Ecosystems have become playthings of profit. With our bottomless appetite for unchecked and unequal economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction. We are treating nature like a toilet. And ultimately, we are committing suicide by proxy.

“The deluded dreams of billionaires aside, there is no Planet B. We must fix the world we have. We must cherish this wonderous gift. We must make peace with nature. I urge you to do the right thing. Step up for nature.

“Step up for biodiversity. Step up for humanity. Together, let’s adopt and deliver an ambitious framework — a peace pact with nature — and pass on a better, greener, bluer and more sustainable world to our children.”

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