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Climate Change: UN Secretary-General says nearly half of humanity is living in danger

By: Gabriel Benjamin

 “Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone now,” the United Nation’s Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, was quoted as saying in the report published on Monday, February 28 by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The Secretary-General, who made this statement at the launch of the IPCC report, said unchecked carbon pollution was forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction.

The report was very scathing of the lackluster efforts to date to combat climate change, warning that the abdication of leadership to the environment was criminal. He blamed the big polluters whom he said are guilty of arson of the planet.

“I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this. Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership and reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change,” Guterres added.

Expressing concerns, he added that: “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change. Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone – now.

“Many ecosystems are at the point of no return – now. Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction – now.

“The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal. The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home”.

Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world despite efforts to reduce the risks.

The IPCC said that the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C and further warned that even temporarily exceeding this warming level would result in additional severe impacts, some of which would be irreversible.

Guterres stressed that, “Science tells us that we require the world to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“But according to current commitments, global emissions are set to increase almost 14 per cent over the current decade.

“That spells catastrophe. It will destroy any chance of keeping 1.5 alive. Today’s report underscores two core truths.

“First, coal and other fossil fuels are choking humanity. All G-20 governments have agreed to stop funding coal abroad.”

The UN Chief called on world leaders to urgently dismantle their coal fleets, adding that, “those in the private sector still financing coal must be held to account.

“Oil and gas giants – and their underwriters – are also on notice. You cannot claim to be green while your plans and projects undermine the 2050 net-zero target and ignore the major emissions cuts that must occur this decade.

“People see through this smokescreen. OECD countries must phase out coal by 2030, and all others by 2040. The present global energy mix is broken.”

On economy, energy and food security Guterres said, “Economic damages from climate change have been detected in climate-exposed sectors, with regional effects to agriculture, forestry, fishery, energy and tourism and through outdoor labour productivity.“Our continued reliance on fossil fuels makes the global economy and energy security vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises.

 “Instead of slowing down the decarbonisation of the global economy, now is the time to accelerate the energy transition to a renewable energy future.“Fossil fuels are a dead end – for our planet, for humanity, and yes, for economies.”On mitigation, he said, “a prompt, well-managed transition to renewables is the only pathway to energy security, universal access and the green jobs our world needs.“I am calling for developed countries, Multilateral Development Banks, private financiers and others to form coalitions to help major emerging economies end the use of coal.”The IPCC report released three months after global leaders met at a climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, also highlighted the urgency of efforts to contain global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of pre-industrial temperatures.

Breaching that threshold will deliver irreversible damage to the planet, it says. And every increment of warming will cause more pain.

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