UN chief warns global warming continues and 1.5 degree limit ‘on sustaining life’

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Wednesday that global warming is continuing and that the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – was “alive”.

“The 1.5 degree limit is about sustaining life, and it’s fading fast,” the senior UN official told reporters after wrapping up two meetings with numerous heads of state and government to talk about the climate emergency and the triple global crisis in food, energy and finance.

“You have all seen the appalling images from Pakistan. This is happening at just 1.2 degrees of global warming,” the secretary-general said.

“We are heading towards more than 3 degrees,” he warned.

António Guterres said he told the gathered leaders that “we need their action, their leadership, now”.

“First, more ambition on mitigation to keep 1.5 alive. Emissions must fall by 45% before 2030. Current commitments will see them increase by 14%,” he said.

Guterres said he specifically called on G20 leaders “to end our reliance on fossil fuels.”

On funding, the senior UN official called for efforts to “full compliance” with commitments to developing countries. “The world needs clarity on how developed countries will deliver the US$100 billion a year.”

“I highlighted the need to double adaptation support to $40 billion per year by 2025,” he added.

Regarding food security, António Guterres said that “without enough fertilizer, next year’s harvest may not be enough to feed the world”.

“We need international cooperation and solidarity to bring prices down, increase support for developing countries, including through social protection floors, and prevent a bigger crisis next year,” did he declare.

António Guterres called on international financial institutions to step up their support for developing countries. “They need immediate debt relief,” he said.

Teresa H. Sadler