UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the world is “not on track” to meet its targets to limit global temperature rises, believing political leaders are losing the will to act on climate change.
Mr Guterres said countries were not living up to the 2015 Paris Agreement and called on other politicians to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had showed “visionary leadership” on what he said was a global climate emergency.
“Climate change is running faster than what we are … the last four years have been the hottest registered,” TVNZ quoted the former Portuguese prime minister as saying on Sunday.
Mr Guterres said: “We are not on track to achieve the objectives defined in the Paris Agreement.
“And the paradox is that as things are getting worse on the ground, political will seems to be fading.”
The UN Secretary-General arrived in New Zealand on Sunday, where he met Ms Ardern as part of a tour of Pacific nations.
He commended her on last week introducing an ambitious bill that aims to make New Zealand mostly carbon neutral by 2050.
The bill, which gives some leeway to farmers, is expected to come to a final vote in Parliament later this year.
Mr Guterres will next travel to Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Fiji as he continues his focus on the impact of global warming.
He said Pacific Island nations were on the front line of climate change.
“I don’t think there is any other region but the Pacific with the moral authority to tell the world that the world needs to abide by what the scientific community is telling us,” Mr Guterres said.
He added: “We cannot allow for runaway climate change.
“We need to protect the lives of our people and we need to protect our planet.”
— United Nations (@UN) May 12, 2019
The Paris Accord
In Paris on December 12, 2015 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change, bringing nations into a common cause.
The agreement was to keep global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, with the further aim “to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change”.
In modern times, global average temperatures are about 1 degree higher than they were in the pre-industrial era – that is, before the boom of industries that relied upon the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius would have serious consequences, such as an increase in the number of extreme weather events.
In Australia, the Paris Agreement was tabled in Federal Parliament on August 31, 2016 and ratified in November that year.
Countries had also agreed:
- To set mitigation targets from 2020 and review targets every five years to build ambition over time, informed by a global stocktake
- Robust transparency and accountability rules to provide confidence in countries’ actions and track progress towards targets
- Promoting action to adapt and build resilience to climate impacts
- Financial, technological and capacity-building support to help developing countries implement the agreement.
The scathing assessment by the UN chief comes just a week after the release of shocking findings of a landmark report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that painted a devastating picture of a planet in peril.