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As Climate Talks Stall, UN Chief Presses World Leaders to Take Action
"If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change," Guterres said.
Guterres' speech came a day after climate talks concluded in Bangkok without producing a draft of rules that could be presented at the next round of UN climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland in December, which will be dedicated to the implementation of the Paris agreement, The Associated Press reported.
"We cannot allow Katowice to remind us of Copenhagen," Guterres said, referring to climate talks there that fell apart in 2009, BBC News reported.
The major disagreements at the Bangkok talks revolved around how developing countries would finance and report their Paris commitments.
Developed countries are supposed to provide funds to assist developing countries, but ActionAid International Climate Policy Manager Harjeet Singh told The Associated Press that countries like the U.S., Japan, Australia and the EU declined to say "how much money they are going to provide and how that is going to be counted."
Other delegates expressed frustration with the role of the U.S. in negotiations, saying the country undermined the process despite President Donald Trump's announcement that he would pull the U.S. from being impacted by the final agreement.
"The U.S. has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement but still negotiates as if it is a Party, weakening international cooperation by not contributing to finance and technology transfer to developing countries," Third World Network legal adviser Meena Raman told The Associated Press in an email.
Guterres did not refer to Trump by name in his remarks Monday, but called on global leaders generally to meet their Paris targets, The New York Times reported.
Few countries are close to meeting those targets, and the UN has found that existing targets would only get the world one-third of the way towards limiting warming "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"The time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands," Guterres said, according to The New York Times. "We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels."
Guterres dismissed the idea that doing so was too expensive, saying that renewable energy was now competitive with oil and coal and that meeting the Paris goals would boost the economy overall, BBC News reported.
"For every dollar spent restoring degraded forests, as much as $30 can be recouped in economic benefits and poverty reduction," Guterres said, according to BBC News.
Guterres urged world leaders as well as city and business leaders to join him in September 2019 for a climate change forum, The New York Times reported.
The inclusion of city and industry is designed to put pressure on national governments, The New York Times surmised.
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Britain has been battered by back-to-back major storms in consecutive weekends, which flooded streets, submerged rail lines, and canceled flights. The most recent storm, Dennis, forced a group of young climate activists to cancel their first ever national conference, as CBS News reported.
At the 56th Munich Security Conference in Germany, world powers turned to international defense issues with a focus on "Westlessness" — the idea that Western countries are uncertain of their values and their strategic orientation. Officials also discussed the implications of the coronavirus outbreak, the Middle East and the Libya crisis.
The climate crisis wreaks havoc on animals and plants that have trouble adapting to global heating and extreme weather. Some of the most obvious examples are at the far reaches of the planet, as bees disappear from Canada, penguin populations plummet in the Antarctic, and now polar bears in the Arctic are struggling from sea ice loss, according to a new study, as CNN reported.
- We can all take steps to reduce the environmental impact of our work-related travels.
- Individual actions — like the six described here — can cumulatively help prompt more collective changes, but it helps to prioritize by impact.
- As the saying goes: be the change you want to see in the world.