Some 60 world leaders gather at UN for a “climate emergency” summit aimed at reinvigorating the faltering Paris agreement, at a time when mankind is releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than at any time in history.
‘You have stolen my dreams and childhood’: Greta Thunberg tells UN
A visibly angry Greta Thunberg addressed a UN climate summit on Monday, accusing world leaders of betraying her generation through their inaction.
“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean,” said Thunberg, 16, who has become the global face of a growing youth movement against climate inaction that mobilised millions in a worldwide strike on Friday.
“You come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” she thundered, her voice at times breaking with emotion.
“We are in the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is the money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” the Swedish climate activist said.
Climate crisis ’caused by us, solutions must ‘come from us’ – Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres kicked off a summit on Monday telling the audience that “climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.”
His remarks were made during the Climate Action Summit at UN headquarters in New York which is hosting leaders from government, business, and civil society.
Guterres spoke about his recent tour of countries, including Mozambique and Bahamas which are experiencing the effects of climate change.
“Make no mistake, when we see those images, we are not just seeing the damage,” said Guterres. “We are seeing the future if we do not act now.”
“And young people – above all, young people – are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action. They are right,” he said.
“My generation has failed in the responsibility to protect our planet. That must change,” said the UN chief.
Climate change is “caused by us” and the solutions must “come from us,” he said.
“We have the tools, technology is on our side. The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win,” he added.
Sixty-six countries vow carbon neutrality by 2050 – UN
The UN said on Monday that 66 countries have signalled their intent to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, seen as a vital goal in preventing a catastrophic longer-term climate crisis.
“In terms of the 2050 group, 66 governments are joined by 10 regions, 102 cities, 93 businesses and 12 investors — all committed to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050,” the office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win,” he said.
Countries announced commitments to carbon reduction targets under the Paris Agreement of 2015, and are now expected to update their “nationally determined contributions” by 2020.
Donors announce extra $500M for rainforest programs
The World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and non-profit Conservation International are releasing an additional $500 million to protect tropical rainforests, including the Amazon, the French presidency said on Monday.
The announcement came at an Alliance for Rainforests event at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, attended by world leaders, including Emmanuel Macron of France, and the presidents of Chile, Colombia, and Bolivia, but not Brazil.
African countries to call for climate emergency declaration
African nations have for years called for more money from rich countries to help them combat global warming and integrate climate risks into their long-term economic planning. That plea will be heard in New York again this week.
Some 60 world leaders, the European Union, more than a dozen companies and banks, a few cities and a state will present plans at Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Climate Action Summit.
The gathering on the “climate emergency” is aimed at reinvigorating the faltering Paris agreement, at a time when mankind is releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than at any time in history.
Thunberg in, US, Brazil, Australia out
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg will take the podium at the summit, following a speech by Guterres.
Among the list of those absent will be US President Donald Trump, who pulled his country out of the Paris Accord upon taking power and has made slashing environmental regulations a key part of his platform.
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, under whose leadership the Amazon rainforest is continuing to burn at record rates, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison whose government has pursued an aggressively pro-coal agenda, will not present.
Brazil’s, Poland’s and Saudi Arabia’s proposals for dealing with climate change fell short, so they’re not on Monday’s summit schedule. The US didn’t even bother, according to a UN official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
China present despite being world’s largest polluter
China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter by far, but also a leader in the renewables sector, will be present.
Beijing will be represented by foreign minister Wang Yi, with Guterres hinting last week that the East Asian giant will be committing to new measures.
Modi to speak after public endorsement from Trump
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fresh from a triumphant diaspora event in Houston where he was joined by Trump, will speak in the morning session, along with the leaders of New Zealand, the Marshall Islands, and Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Like China, India is coal-addicted but has also set itself highly ambitious renewable energy targets, particularly in solar.
Come with ‘concrete plans’
Guterres has asked countries to bring “concrete, realistic plans” to enhance commitments made in 2015 in Paris toward the goal of limiting long-term warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius –– and ideally 1.5 degrees –– over pre-industrial levels.
These are deemed important to avoid hitting a number of so-called “tipping points,” like the melting of polar permafrost, that could trigger irreversible warming and fundamentally alter weather events and ecosystems.
Countries recommended to triple greenhouse emission cuts
The UN published a report on the eve of the summit that said the five-year period ending 2019 was set to be the hottest ever, the latest grim reminder that climate change is already a reality.
The UN estimates the world needs to increase its current efforts five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science – a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid escalating climate damage.
“Our global carbon credit is maxed out,” said Dave Reay, a professor and chair in Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh, commenting on the report.
“If emissions don’t start falling there will be hell to pay.”