The climate target of 1.5 °C is “gasping”, says UN chief | climate crisis

The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C is “gasping,” said the UN Secretary-General when he announced a “summit on climate protection” for September.

António Guterres said the summit will challenge government and business leaders to develop “new, tangible and credible climate action to accelerate the pace of change” and confront the “existential threat” of the climate crisis.

“We’re still moving in the wrong direction,” he said on Monday. “The 1.5 degree target is gasping. National climate plans fall woefully short. And yet we don’t retreat, we defend ourselves.”

He added: “The invitation [to the summit] is open. But the price of entry is non-negotiable — serious new climate action that will advance the needle. It will be a no-nonsense summit. No exceptions. There will be no place for backsliders, greenwashers, finger pointing or repackaging of announcements from previous years.”

Guterres has been increasingly outspoken on the climate emergency, and the summit will continue to pressure countries to act.

A series of reports in October revealed how close the planet is to an irreversible climate catastrophe. CO2 emissions must be halved by 2030 to have any chance of limiting global warming to the internationally agreed 1.5C limit. But emissions in 2022 will hit a record high.

Guterres cited some achievements, including a “groundbreaking” agreement at November’s Cop27 summit on loss and damage, the now inevitable impact of climate-related extreme weather and funding for reconstruction in poorer countries.

He also pointed to multi-billion dollar deals between rich countries and Indonesia, South Africa and Vietnam to phase out their use of coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. “We’re fighting back to help emerging markets shift away from coal and accelerate the renewable energy revolution,” he said.

Earlier this month, Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, said: “Renewable energy has already been expanding rapidly, but the global energy crisis has thrown it into an extraordinary new phase as countries seek to reap the benefits of energy security. The world is projected to add as much renewable energy over the next five years as it has over the past 20 years.”

The UN held a climate summit in December 2020 after the Cop26 meeting was postponed by a year because of Covid-19. The UN General Assembly in New York, which takes place every September, has increasingly addressed the climate crisis in recent years.

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