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Remarks on Climate Change - 10 September 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for coming to UN Headquarters today.
I have asked you here to sound the alarm.
Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. We face a direct existential threat.
Climate change is moving faster than we are.
If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.
That is why, today, I am appealing for leadership – from politicians and leaders, from business and scientists, and from the public everywhere.
We must break the paralysis.
We have the moral and financial reasons to act.
We have the tools to make our actions effective.
What we still lack – even after the Paris Agreement -- is leadership and the ambition to do what is needed.
My friends,
Let there be no doubt about the urgency of the crisis.

We are experiencing record-breaking temperatures around the world.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the past two decades included 18 of the warmest years since 1850, when records began.
This year is shaping up to be the fourth hottest.
Extreme heatwaves, wildfires, storms and floods are leaving a trail of death and devastation.
Last month the state of Kerala in India suffered its worst monsoon flooding in recent history, killing 400 people and driving 1 million more from their homes.
We now know that Hurricane Maria killed almost 3,000 people in Puerto Rico last year, making it one of the deadliest extreme weather disasters in U.S. history.
Many of these people died in the months after the storm because they lacked access to electricity, clean water and proper healthcare due to the hurricane.
What makes all of this even more disturbing is that we were warned.
Scientists have been telling us for decades. Over and over again.
Far too many leaders have refused to listen.
Far too few have acted with the vision the science demands.
We see the results.
In some cases, they are approaching scientists’ worst-case scenarios.
Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than we imagined possible.
This year, for the first time, thick permanent sea ice north of Greenland began to break up.
This dramatic warming in the Arctic is affecting weather patterns across the northern hemisphere.
Wildfires are lasting longer and spreading further.

Some of these blazes are so big that they send soot and ash around the world, blackening glaciers and ice caps, making them melt even faster.
Oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening the foundation of the food chains that sustain life.
Corals are dying in vast amounts, further depleting vital fisheries.
And, on land, the high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is making rice crops less nutritious, threatening well-being and food security for billions of people.
As climate change intensifies, water will become more scarce.
We will find it harder to feed ourselves.
Extinction rates will spike as vital habitats decline.
More and more people will be forced to migrate from their homes as the land they depend on becomes less able to support them.
This is already leading to local conflicts over dwindling resources.
This past May, the World Meteorological Organization reported that the planet marked another grim milestone: the highest monthly average for carbon dioxide levels ever recorded.
Four hundred parts per million has long been seen as a critical threshold.
We have now surpassed 411 parts per millions and the concentrations continue to rise.
This the highest concentration in 3 million years.
Dear friends,
We know what is happening to our planet.
We know what we need to do.
And we even know how to do it.
But sadly, the ambition of our action is nowhere near where it needs to be.

When world leaders signed the Paris Agreement on climate change three years ago, they pledged to stop temperatures rising by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to work to keep the increase as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.
These targets were the bare minimum to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
But scientists tell us that we are far off track.
According to a UN study, the commitments made so far by Parties to the Paris Agreement represent just one-third of what is needed.
The mountain in front of us is very high.
But it is not insurmountable.
We know how to scale it.
Put simply, we need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action.
We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels.
We need to replace them with clean energy from water, wind and sun.
We must halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we farm.
We need to embrace the circular economy and resource efficiency.
Our cities and transport sectors will need to be overhauled.
How we heat, cool and light our buildings will need to be rethought so we waste less energy.
And this is where the conversation becomes exciting.
Because, so much of the conversation on climate change focuses on the doom and gloom.
Warnings are necessary. But fear will not get the job done.
No, what captures my imagination is the vast opportunity afforded by climate action.
My friends,

Enormous benefits await humankind if we can rise to the climate challenge.
A great many of these benefits are economic.
I have heard the argument – usually from vested interests -- that tackling climate change is expensive and could harm economic growth.
This is hogwash.
In fact, the opposite is true.
We are experiencing huge economic losses due to climate change.
Over the past decade, extreme weather and the health impact of burning fossil fuels have cost the American economy at least 240 billion dollars a year.
This cost will explode by 50 per cent in the coming decade alone.
By 2030, the loss of productivity caused by a hotter world could cost the global economy 2 trillion dollars.
More and more studies also show the enormous benefits of climate action.
Last week I was at the launch of the New Climate Economy report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Change.
It shows that that climate action and socio-economic progress are mutually supportive, with gains of 26 trillion dollars predicted by 2030 compared with business as usual.
For example, for every dollar spent restoring degraded forests, as much as $30 dollars can be recouped in economic benefits and poverty reduction.
Restoring degraded lands means better lives and income for farmers and pastoralists and less pressure to migrate to cities.
Climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year.
And clean air has vast benefits for public health.

The International Labour Organization reports that common sense green economy policies could create 24 million new jobs globally by 2030.
In China and the United States, new renewable energy jobs now outstrip those created in the oil and gas industries.
And, in Bangladesh the installation of more than four million solar home systems has created more than 115,000 jobs and saved rural households over 400 million dollars in polluting fuels.
So, not only would a shift to renewable energy save money, it would also create new jobs, waste less water, boost food production and clean the polluted air that is killing us.
There is nothing to lose from acting; there is everything to gain.
Now, there are still many who think the challenge is too great.
I disagree.
Humankind has confronted and overcome immense challenges before; challenges that have required us to work together and to put aside division and difference to fight a common threat.
That was how the United Nations came into being.
It is how we have helped end wars, stop diseases, reduce global poverty and heal the ozone hole.
Now we stand at an existential crossroad.
If we are to take the right path – the only sensible path -- we will have to muster the full force of human ingenuity.
That ingenuity exists and is already providing solutions.
Dear friends,
Technology is on our side in the battle to address climate change.
The rise of renewable energy has been tremendous.

Today, it is competitive with – and even cheaper – than coal and oil, especially if one factors in the cost of pollution.
Last year, China invested 126 billion dollars in renewable energy, an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year.
Sweden is set to hit its 2030 target for renewable energy this year – 12 years early.
By 2030, wind and solar energy could power more than a third of Europe.
Morocco is building a solar farm the size of Paris that will power more than one million homes by 2020 with clean, affordable energy.
Scotland has opened the world’s first floating wind farm.
In Thailand, the Solar Power Company Group -- led by a woman -- saw potential in the incentives provided by the Government and further unlocked private financing to construct 36 solar farms accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the country’s solar production.
There are other signs of hope.
Countries rich in fossil fuels, such as the Gulf States and Norway, are exploring ways to diversify their economies.
Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in renewables to move from an oil economy to an energy economy.
Norway’s 1 trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund – the largest in the world – has moved away from investments in coal and has dropped a number of palm and pulp-paper companies because of the forests they destroy.
There are also promising signs that businesses are waking up to the benefits of climate action.
More than 130 of the world’s largest and most influential businesses plan to power their operations with 100 per cent renewable energy.
Eighteen multinationals will shift to electric vehicle fleets.
And more than 400 firms will develop targets based on the latest science in order to manage their emissions.

One of the world’s biggest insurers – Allianz -- will stop insuring coal-fired power plants.
Investments are shifting too.
More than 250 investors representing 28 trillion dollars in assets have signed on to the Climate Action 100+ initiative.
They have committed to engage with the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to improve their climate performance and ensure transparent disclosure of emissions.
Many such examples are going to be showcased this week at the important Global Climate Action Summit being convened by Governor Brown in California.
All these pioneers have seen the future.
They are betting on green because they understand this is the path to prosperity and peace on a healthy planet.
The alternative is a dark and dangerous future.
These are all important strides.
But they are not enough.
The transition to a cleaner, greener future needs to speed up.
We stand at a truly “use it or lose it” moment.
Over the next decade or so, the world will invest some 90 trillion dollars in infrastructure. We must ensure it is sustainable or we will lock in a high-polluting dangerous future.
And for that to happen, the leaders of the world need to step up.
The private sector is poised to move, and many are doing so.
But a lack of decisive government action is causing uncertainty in the markets and concern about the future of the Paris Agreement.
We can’t let this happen.

Exciting technologies are waiting to come online – cleaner fuels, alternative building materials, better batteries and advances in farming and land use.
These and other innovations can have a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so we can hit the Paris targets and inject the greater ambition that is so urgently needed.
But they will only become a reality if governments and industries invest in research and development.
Governments must also end harmful subsidies for fossil fuels, and institute carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of polluting greenhouse gas emissions and incentivizes the clean energy transition.
Dear friends,
I have spoken of the emergency we face, the benefits of action and the feasibility of a climate-friendly transformation.
There is another reason to act -- moral duty.
The world’s richest nations are the most responsible for the climate crisis, yet the effects are being felt first and worst by the poorest nations and most vulnerable people and communities.
We already see this injustice in the incessant and increasing cycle of extreme droughts and ever more powerful storms.
Women and girls, in particular, will pay the price – not only because their lives will become harder but because, in times of disaster, women and girls always suffer disproportionally.
Richer nations must therefore not only cut their emissions but do more to ensure that the most vulnerable can develop the necessary resilience to survive the damage these emissions are causing.
It is important to note that, because carbon dioxide is long-lasting in the atmosphere, the climate changes we are already seeing will persist for decades to come.
It is necessary for all nations to adapt, and for the richer ones to assist the most vulnerable.

Dear friends,
This is the message I will make loud and clear around the globe and directly to world leaders at this month’s General Assembly in New York.
I will tell them that climate change is the great challenge of our time.
I will say that, thanks to science, we know its size and nature.
I will emphasize that we have the ingenuity, resources and tools to face it.
And I will stress that leaders must lead.
We have the moral and financial incentives to act.
What is missing – still, even after Paris – is leadership, a sense of urgency and a true commitment to a decisive multilateral response.
Negotiations towards implementation guidelines for operationalizing the Paris Agreement ended yesterday in Bangkok with some progress -- but far from enough.
The next key moment is in Poland in December.
I call on leaders to use every opportunity between now and then -- the G7 and G20 gatherings as well as meetings of the General Assembly, World Bank and International Monetary Fund -- to resolve the sticking points.
We cannot allow Katowice to remind us of Copenhagen.
The time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.
We need them to show they care about the future – and the present.
That is why I am so pleased to have such a strong representation of youth in the audience today.
It is imperative that civil society -- youth, women’s groups, the private sector, communities of faith, scientists and grassroots movements around the world -- call their leaders to account.
I call -- in particular -- on women’s leadership.

When women are empowered to lead, they are the drivers of solutions.
Nothing less than our future and the fate of humankind depends on how we rise to the climate challenge.
It affects every aspect of the work of the United Nations.
Keeping our planet’s warming to well below 2 degrees is essential for global prosperity, people’s well-being and the security of nations.
That is why, next September, I will convene a Climate Summit to bring climate action to the top of the international agenda.
Today, I am announcing the appointment of Luis Alfonso de Alba, a well-respected leader in the climate community, as my Special Envoy to lead the preparations.
His efforts will complement those of my Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg, and my Special Advisor Bob Orr, who will help to mobilize private finance and catalyze bottom-up action.
The Summit will come one year before countries will have to enhance their national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.
Only a significantly higher level of ambition will do.
To that end, the Summit will focus on areas that go to the heart of the problem – the sectors that create the most emissions and the areas where building resilience will make the biggest difference.
The Summit will provide an opportunity for leaders and partners to demonstrate real climate action and showcase their ambition.
We will bring together players from the real economy and real politics, including representatives of trillions of dollars of assets, both public and private.

I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020 and each net-zero emissions by mid-century.

We need cities and states to shift from coal to solar and wind -- from brown to green energy. Our great host city, New York, is taking important steps in this direction -- and working with other municipalities to spur change.

We need increased investments and innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies across buildings, transport, and industry.
And we need the oil and gas industry to make their business plans compatible with the Paris targets.
I want to see a strong expansion in carbon pricing.
I want us to get the global food system right by ensuring that we grow our food without chopping down large tracts of forest.
We need sustainable food supply chains that reduce loss and waste.
And we must halt deforestation and restore degraded lands.
I want to rapidly speed up the trend towards green financing by banks and insurers, and encourage innovation in financial and debt instruments to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable nations such as small island states and bolster their defences against climate change.
And I want to see governments fulfilling their pledge to mobilize 100 billion dollars a year for climate action.
We need to see the Green Climate Fund become fully operational and resourced.
But for all this, we need governments, industry and civil society reading from the same page – with governments front and centre driving the movement for climate action.
That is why I am calling on all world leaders to come to next year’s Climate Summit prepared to report not only on what they are doing, but what more they intend to do when they convene in 2020 for the UN climate conference.
And it is why I am calling on civil society, and young people in particular, to campaign for climate action.
Let us use the next year for transformational decisions in boardrooms, executive suites and parliaments across the world.
Let us raise our sights, build coalitions and make our leaders listen.

I commit myself, and the entire United Nations, to this effort. We will support all leaders who rise to the challenge I have outlined today.
Dear friends,
Last week I read about 15-year-old Greta Thunberg.
After Sweden’s hottest-ever summer, she decided to go on school strike and sit in front of Parliament to demand that politicians wake up to the climate crisis.
She knows the time for debate is over.
Now is the time for action. There is no more time to waste.
As the ferocity of this summer’s wildfires and heatwaves shows, the world is changing before our eyes.
We are careering towards the edge of the abyss.
It is not too late to shift course, but every day that passes means the world heats up a little more and the cost of our inaction mounts.
Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants -- a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on earth.
Our fate is in our own hands.
The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late.
Thank you.

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Get off the path of ‘suicidal emissions’, UN chief Guterres to urge in key climate change speech

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is to use a landmark speech later on Monday to urge greater involvement and leadership on the part of everybody, to protect the planet and its people, from the disastrous consequences of runaway climate change.

“Climate change is undeniable” he will say at UN Headquarters in New York, and “the science is beyond doubt,” posted the UN chief in a tweet, previewing his speech about an issue which he says poses an existential threat to humankind.

“It is time to get off the path of suicidal emissions,” he reiterated in the tweet.

Mr. Guterres is going to call on governments, businesses, scientists and consumers – “to make changes” and to “be the change” that will put the planet on a path to a better future. 

In his speech – scheduled for 3 PM, Eastern Standard Time [watch live here] – Secretary-General Guterres will also outline his vision for a new Climate Summit in 2019, which he will be convening to rally the international community, to step up action in key areas inclusive sustainable energy production, economic growth, green investment and better stewardship of natural resources.

The call for greater ambition on climate action comes amid record temperature rises and extreme weather events across the globe. The last few months alone saw devastating floods in southern India, wildfires in the United States and extreme heatwaves in Japan.

When world leaders signed the historic Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, they pledged to stop temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and as close to 1.5 degrees, as possible. But scientists and a major UN study, indicate that the target is already well off-track. 

The UN chief’s message also comes ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit, to be held on the west coast of the United States, in San Francisco, from 12-14 September. National, regional and municipal leaders will gather with business people and philanthropic communities to underscore their commitment to climate action.

We will have more on this story, soon.


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Act now to save children from rise in climate-driven extreme weather – UNICEF

Governments are being pressed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to act now to safeguard younger generations from the immediate and long-term impacts of so-called “extreme weather events.”
 

The devastating floods in southern India, wildfires ravaging the western United States and the record-breaking heatwaves baking countries across much of the northern hemisphere, are putting children in immediate danger while also jeopardizing their future, the agency said in a press release issued on Friday.

 “In any crisis, children are among the most vulnerable, and the extreme weather events we are seeing around the world are no exception,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Director of Programmes.

“Over the past few months, we have seen a stark vision of the world we are creating for future generations. As more extreme weather events increase the number of emergencies and humanitarian crises, it is children who will pay the highest price.”

These extreme weather events during June and July, causing injury, death, environmental damage and other losses.

UNICEF stated that although individual weather events cannot specifically be attributed to climate change, their increasing frequency and severity correspond with predictions of how human activities are affecting the global climate.

These conditions have numerous impacts on children. For example, they contribute to the increased spread of “childhood killers” such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea, UNICEF explained.

Heatwaves put children at risk, with infants and younger children more likely to die or suffer from heatstroke, while floods threaten their survival and development through causing injuries or death by drowning, or compromising water supply and damaging sanitation facilities. Meanwhile, poor families are particularly affected by drought, which can lead to crop failure, livestock deaths and loss of income.

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 UNICEF infographic on child malnutrition 

pie chartmore data from UNICEF 

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Message on International Day for Biological Diversity - 22 May

The rich variety of life on Earth is essential for the welfare and prosperity of people today and for generations to come.

That is why, 25 years ago, the world’s nations agreed on the Convention for Biological Diversity.

The Convention has three goals: the global conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use and the equitable sharing of its benefits. Achieving these objectives is integral to meet our goals for sustainable development. Protecting and restoring ecosystems and ensuring access to ecosystem services are necessary for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands are needed for mitigating climate change. And protecting the biodiversity of forests and watersheds supports clean and plentiful water supplies.

These are just some of the benefits of biodiversity. Yet, despite this understanding, biodiversity loss continues around the globe. The answer is to intensify efforts and build on successes.

This year, Parties to the Convention will begin work on a new action plan to ensure that, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used for the benefit of all people.

The entire world needs to join this effort.

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to act to protect the nature that sustains us.

Our collective future depends on it.

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UN forum to coordinate global efforts to address worsening water shortages

With extreme weather costing hundreds of billions a year and fears that by 2050, one in four people will be living in a country affected by severe water shortages, a global conference got underway on Monday convened by the United Nations meteorological agency to manage the precious resource more sustainably.

The problem has been further complicated by a lack of comprehensive water supply data and monitoring systems which is making it harder to respond to the growing crisis.

We cannot manage what we do not measure,” said Harry Lins, the President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Hydrology.

“And yet the systems and data collection which underpin these vital services to society are under real pressure,” he added, underscoring that informed decision-making must be based on comprehensive facts and figures.

This sums up the key challenge underlying the agency’s HydroConference, taking place in Geneva from 7-9 May, is seeking to address.

It brings together the full gamut of so-called “water stakeholders” – decision makers, meteorological and hydrological services; the private and academic sector; non-governmental organizations, and UN entities – around the same table to coordinate efforts as well as leverage individual knowledge and collective expertise to maximum effect.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said it was important for all actors to cope with the scale of the challenges that lie ahead, citing the two extremes of droughts and floods.

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[ read the full story on UN News ]

 


 Water Facts:

World Water Decade Logo Horizontal

 

The General Assembly resolution 71/222 states that the objectives of the Decade should be a greater focus on:

  • the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources for achievement of social, economic and environmental objectives;
  • the implementation and promotion of related programmes and projects; and
  • the furtherance of cooperation and partnerships at all levels to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan: Water Action Decade 2018-2028

WAD 1 safe drinking water EN    WAD 3 water conservation EN    WAD 4 water rivers seas pollution EN
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Fifth meeting of the Caribbean Development Roundtable - climate resilience and sustainable economic growth

Under the general theme “Promoting climate resilience and sustainable economic growth in the Caribbean”, the Roundtable, through panel presentations and dialogue among policy makers, academics, the private sector and other stakeholders, will invite consideration of the  ECLAC debt for climate adaptation swap initiative, related opportunities for investment in green industries to promote economic diversification, and efforts to promote fiscal responsibility through the use of Public Expenditure Reviews in the Caribbean. The meeting will address the continuing challenge of de-risking and ongoing difficulties being experienced by the offshore financial sector in several member States. 

The meeting will focus on four interrelated topics as follows:

  • Understanding the ECLAC debt for climate adaptation swap initiative.
  • Advancing green investment and green industry for structural economic transformation the Caribbean.
  • Promoting fiscal responsibility and management in the Caribbean. The need for public expenditure reviews (PERs).
  • Addressing the vulnerability of the Caribbean caused by de-risking and challenges to the offshore financial sector.

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UN Chronicle - highlights global quest for water

“The Quest for Water” focuses on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water for all. The articles explore important issues such as ecosystems in the global water cycle, the threat that climate change poses to water availability, and the role of gender and social inclusion in achieving the water-related goals and targets. This issue of the digital magazine of the UN system “buoys” the launch of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028.

reading  [ read more here

 

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Climate change “is still moving much faster than we are,” UN Chief warns

Climate change “is still moving much faster than we are,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Thursday, calling for the political will, innovation and financing to cut global emissions by at least 25 per cent over the next two years.

“Scientists are now worried that unless accelerated action is taken by 2020, the Paris goal may become unattainable,” the UN chief told reporters at the world body’s New York Headquarters.
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,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that 2017 had been filled with climate chaos and 2018 has 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 Organization (WMO), the World Bank and the International Energy Agency shows the relentless pace of climate change.
For instance, the UN chief said, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent, to a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes.
Moreover, weather-related disasters caused some $320 billion 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 South Asia, major monsoon floods affected 41 million people.
In Africa, severe drought drove nearly 900,000 people from their homes.
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,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that next year he will convene a climate summit in New York 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, stressing the need for a further cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25 per cent by 2020.

 

Read the full story at UN News: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1006271

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Accelerate climate action and raise ambition, urges UN chief

As the impact of climate change worsens around the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on the global community to redouble efforts to help countries respond to climate shocks, especially the most vulnerable.

“I am encouraged to see climate action taking hold, at all scales, at all levels, involving an ever-wider coalition of actors and institutions,” said the Secretary-General, at a press stakeout at the UN Headquarters, in New York.
“But we need to do more,” he underlined.

In his remarks, the UN chief said that he will be travelling to Bonn to participate in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), where, he will urge efforts to accelerate climate action as well as to raise ambition to do more.
At the UN Climate Change Conference this year (COP23, from 6 to 17 November) nations of the world will meet to advance the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement and achieve progress on its implementation guidelines.

The conference, officially referred as COP 23/ CMP 13/ CMA 1-2, will take place in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and presided over by Fiji. The UNFCCC secretariat and the Government of Fiji are closely working with the Government of Germany, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Bonn to ensure a dynamic and successful Conference.

Resources : 

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Go to the COP 23 website

 

 

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UN Secretary-General to visit storm-ravaged islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica this weekend

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today that he will be visiting hurricane hit islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica this weekend to survey the damage caused by multiple storms and what more the UN can do help people recover.

Speaking to journalists at a press stakeout at UN Headquarters, in New York, Guterres recognized that some of the most important speeches during the general debate of the General Assembly came from the leaders of Caribbean nations reeling from back-to-back hurricanes. He recalled the how Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda reported that the entire population of Barbuda had been left homeless and the Prime Minister of Dominica declared that he had come to the United Nations “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

Mr. Guterres said he was struck by a prevailing message from all the Caribbean leaders – including from the hardest hit countries, who said "we urgently need support today" but even in the wake of utter devastation, urged the world to act for tomorrow.

The Secretary-General highlighted the growing impact of climate change and said that over the past 30 years, the number of annual weather-related disasters nearly tripled, causing great economic losses.

The Secretary-General said “we should not link any single weather event with climate change. But scientists are clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict, and they predict it will be the new normal of a warming world.”

Scientists, he said “are learning more and more about the links between climate change and extreme weather” and are concluding that “a warmer climate turbocharges the intensity of hurricanes. Instead of dissipating, they pick up fuel as they move across the ocean.”

Guterres said “we know that the world has the tools, the technologies and the wealth to address climate change, but we must show more determination in moving towards a green, clean, and sustainable energy future” and urged countries “to implement the Paris Agreement, and with greater ambition.”

The Secretary-General said it was “very important to allow Dominica to have access to innovative forms of finance in concessional conditions,” as “it's very difficult for these countries to rebuild just by having access to normal capital markets.”

He also called for donor support that is “linked both to the humanitarian response and to the plans that, that based on the assessment will be made by the Government, in order to make Dominica an even more resilient country in relation to future storms of this nature.”

Quoting his Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, Guterres said he believes “the US commitments to Paris will be met independently of the government decisions by the efforts that he is witnessing in the US economy, in the US society.”


Following are the initial remarks by the Secretary/General at the press encounter. A full transcript can be found at the bottom of the page. 


THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
--
PRESS ENCOUNTER
New York, 4 October 2017

 
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for your presence and it is indeed good to see you again.
 
As you know, we are coming off a jam-packed High-level week and opening of the General Assembly.
 
Some of the most important speeches during that period came from the leaders of Caribbean nations reeling from back-to-back hurricanes.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda reported that the entire population of Barbuda had been left homeless.

The Prime Minister of Dominica declared that he had come to the United Nations “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

Today I am announcing that I will travel on Saturday to Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica to survey the damage and to assess what more the United Nations can do to help people recover, visiting of course also the operations that are taking place there.

When I met them last month, I was struck most of all by a prevailing message from all the Caribbean leaders – including from the hardest hit countries.

Yes, they said, we urgently need support today.  

But even in the wake of utter devastation, they urged the world to act for tomorrow.
 
As I said in my address to the General Assembly, we should not link any single weather event with climate change.
 
But scientists are clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict, and they predict it will be the new normal of a warming world.

I would like to share some relevant data about what we are seeing.

First, some facts about this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Irma, which devastated Barbuda, was a Category 5 hurricane for three consecutive days – this is the longest on satellite record.

Irma’s winds reached 300 kilometres per hour for 37 hours -- the longest on record at that intensity.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma marked the first time that two Category 4 storms made landfall in the United States in the same year.

And, of course, they were followed by Hurricane Maria, which decimated Dominica and had severe impacts across Puerto Rico.

It is rare to see so many storms of such strength so early in the season.

Second, some facts about the changes in major climate systems.

Sea levels have risen more than 10 inches since 1870.

Over the past 30 years, the number of annual weather-related disasters has nearly tripled, and economic losses have quintupled.

Scientists are learning more and more about the links between climate change and extreme weather.

Climate change is warming the seas.  This, in turn, means more water vapor in the atmosphere.  When storms come, they bring more rain.

A warmer climate turbocharges the intensity of hurricanes.  Instead of dissipating, they pick up fuel as they move across the ocean.

The melting of glaciers, and the thermal expansion of the seas, means bigger storm surges.  With more and more people living on coastlines, the damage is, and will be that much greater.

Scientific models have long predicted an increase in the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.  This is precisely what is happening – and even sooner than expected.

To date, the United Nations and its partners have provided a variety of humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean region by air and by sea: 18 tons of food; 3 million water purification tablets; 3,000 water tanks; 2,500 tents; 2,000 mosquito nets and school kits; 500 debit cards for cash assistance; and much else.

We have launched appeals for $113.9 million to cover humanitarian needs for the immediate period ahead.
 
I commend those countries that are showing solidarity with the Caribbean countries at this time of dire need, including those doing so through South-South cooperation.

But on the whole, I regret to report, the response has been poor.  I urge donors to respond  more generously in the weeks to come.

The United Nations will continue to help countries in the Caribbean to strengthen disaster preparedness, working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

We are strongly committed to helping small island states and, indeed, all countries to adapt to inevitable climate impacts, to increase the pace of recovery and to strengthen resilience overall.

Innovative financing mechanisms will be crucial in enabling countries, like the Caribbean ones, to cope with external shocks of such significant magnitude.

We know that the world has the tools, the technologies and the wealth to address climate change, but we must show more determination in moving towards a green, clean, sustainable energy future.

Once again, I urge countries to implement the Paris Agreement, and with greater ambition.

That is why I will convene a Climate Summit in 2019, as you know.

But today and every day, I am determined to ensure that the United Nations works to protect our common future and to seize the opportunities of climate action.

Thank you very much.
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