UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the Climate Action Summit in New York, warning that immediate measures were needed to deal with this global problem.
“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win,” Guterres said on Monday, Efe news reported.
The UN secretary-general said the time for talking had ended and it was time to take concrete steps to fight climate change.
“This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk,” he added. “This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit,” Guterres said.
The UN secretary-general said action must be taken before it was too late.
“The best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us,” Guterres said. “Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century.”
Guterres said individuals, especially young people, and governments had important roles to play in fighting climate change.
“Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future. Financial actors are here to scale-up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways. Coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050,” the UN secretary-general said in his address.
Guterres noted the role that young people are playing in dealing with climate change.
“And young people are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action,” the UN secretary-general said.
Some 60 heads of state and government are scheduled to address the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, as well as other officials.
For her part, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the leader of the global youth movement demanding action on climate change, told the Climate Action Summit on Monday that heads of state and government were not doing enough to address the climate crisis.
“You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing,” Thunberg said.
The climate activist said, “we are at the beginning of mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth – how dare you!”
The 16-year-old climate activist said young people would not go away on the issue.
“We’ll be watching you,” Thunberg said. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean.”
Thunberg said young people wanted more than just rhetoric from leaders.
“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe,” the climate activist said.
Thunberg told global leaders that a new way of tackling the problem of climate change was coming.
“The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not,” the Swedish activist said.
US President Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at the summit, arriving after Thunberg finished and as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was delivering his address to the gathering.
Trump, who was not scheduled to attend the summit, did not speak.
The US leader listened to Modi’s address and then to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech before leaving the auditorium.
Earlier in the day, 66 governments agreed to adopt a zero CO2 emissions standard by 2050, the UN said.
“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 CO2emissions by 2050,” Guterres said in a statement.