UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that climate chaos would continue in 2018, saying climate change is still moving much faster than human beings.
The UN chief, therefore, called for the political will, innovation and financing to cut global emissions by at least 25 per cent over the next two years.
Guterres said: “Scientists are now worried that unless accelerated action is taken by 2020, the Paris goal may become unattainable”.
The Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by world leaders in December 2015, aims to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursues efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees.
“I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge,” Guterres said.
The UN scribe noted that 2017 had been filled with climate chaos and 2018 had already brought more of the same.
“Climate change is still moving much faster than we are,” he warned, calling the phenomenon the greatest threat facing humankind.
Recent information from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the World Bank and the International Energy Agency showed the relentless pace of climate change.
The UN chief said energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent, to a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes in 2017.
Moreover, weather-related disasters caused some 320 billion dollars in economic damage, making 2017 the costliest year ever for such losses.
In social as well as economic terms, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was devastating, washing away decades of development in an instant.
In Africa, severe drought drove nearly 900,000 people from their homes while in South Asia, major monsoon floods affected 41 million people.
“Wildfires caused destruction across the world. Arctic sea ice cover in winter is at its lowest level, and the oceans are warmer and more acidic than at any time in recorded history.
“This tsunami of data should create a storm of concern,” Guterres said, announcing that he would convene a climate summit in New York in 2019 aimed at boosting global ambition to meet the level of the climate challenge.
“The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones. It ended because there were better alternatives. The same applies today to fossil fuels,” he said.
The UN chief stressed the need for a further cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25 per cent by 2020.
Guterres said his Special Envoy on climate change and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, disclosed that the U.S. might meet the commitments made in Paris due to the positive reactions of the American business community and local authorities.
“All around the world, the role of governments is less and less relevant. The role of the economy, the role of the society is more and more relevant,” Guterres said.