The UN Secretary-General has outlined the “increased ambition and commitment” that the world needs from governments during the coming days of the COP25 UN climate change conference which opens in Madrid on Monday, calling for “accountability, responsibility and leadership” to end the global climate crisis.
“My message here today is one of hope not of despair” said UN chief António Guterres addressing journalists at a press conference in the Spanish capital on Sunday, after revealing the key takeaways from the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Climate report, due to be published during COP25.
“The last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. Sea levels are at the highest in human history”, he said, listing the benchmarks which indicate that “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and is hurtling towards us”.
But scientists have provided a roadmap away from that point, which will allow us to limit global temperature rise to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels, by 2030.
1.5 degrees ‘still within reach’
Efforts so far have been “utterly inadequate” and the Paris Agreement commitments still mean a rise of 3.2 degrees unless more drastic action is taken, said the UN chief, but 1.5 degrees “is still within reach.”
“The technologies that are necessary to make this possible are already available”, he added, “the signals of hope are multiplying. Public opinion is waking up everywhere. Young people are showing remarkable leadership and mobilization.”
The key missing ingredient is a lack of political will he said: “Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels”, or to shift taxation from income to carbon, “taxing pollution instead of people.”
The Secretary-General also announced on Sunday that the current head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, is to become the UN’s new Special Envoy for Climate Action.