United Nation head Antonio Guterres entreated governments to declare a “state of climate emergency” and follow through on their commitments to cut down carbon pollution as economies recover from the pandemic’s effects.
He made this call during the Climate Ambition virtual summit, held five years after the Paris climate agreement. He also said that countries’ current pledges were “far from enough” to cap temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“If we don’t change our course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3.0OC,” Guterres said. “I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”
The UN said that emissions must stay under 7.6% per year up to 2030 to retain the 1.5OC cap. This year, as the pandemic descended upon economies, emissions fell a record 7%.
G-20 nations (largely responsible for much of the world’s carbon footprint) spent 50% more in rescue packages to fossil fuel industries than to low-carbon energy.
“This is unacceptable,” the UN chief declared. “We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet.”
He urged nations that have vowed a net-zero target to fulfill their promises and accelerate emission cuts. He added that every nation, city and sector needed to implement plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and practice them now by setting clear, short-term goals.
The 2015 Paris deal charged countries with limiting warming to under 2OC by substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
More than 75 heads of state attended the Climate Ambition summit and are obligated to announced renewed emissions-cutting targets, or signal intent to aid vulnerable nations in addressing climate-related disasters.