International

World needs to declare ‘climate emergency’, says UN chief

London, Dec 12 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 12/12/2020 12:56:20 PM IST

The UN secretary general has called on all countries to declare a climate emergency.

António Guterres was speaking at a virtual summit on the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement. He criticised rich countries for spending 50% more of their pandemic recovery cash on fossil fuels compared to low-carbon energy.

Over 70 world leaders are due to speak at the meeting organised by the UK, UN and France.

Mr Guterres said that 38 countries had already declared a climate emergency and he called on leaders worldwide to now do the same. He said the emergency would only end when carbon neutrality was reached.

On the Covid recovery spending, he said that this is money being borrowed from future generations.

“We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet,” he said.

The secretary general praised those countries who have come to today’s meeting with new targets and plans.

A number of big emitters, including Australia, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Mexico, are not taking part, as their climate actions were not deemed ambitious enough. The UK has announced an end to support for overseas fossil fuel projects, and has today deposited a new climate plan with the UN.

It’s the first time that Britain has had to do this, as it was previously covered by the European Union’s climate commitments.

Today’s virtual gathering is taking place after the pandemic caused the postponement of the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting, which had been due to take place in Glasgow this year.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the year was coming to an end with “a certain amount of scientific optimism” because “barely 12 months after the start of the pandemic, we’re seeing the vaccine going into the arms of the elderly”.

The UK says that today’s short, action-oriented summit will put a premium on new commitments from countries. Around 70 leaders from all over the world will take part, including the Secretary General of the United Nations, and President Macron of France. Pope Francis will also address the meeting.

The UK will point to its new commitment on overseas fossil fuel projects as well as a new carbon cutting target of 68% by 2030, announced last week by the prime minister.

The EU will also present a new 2030 target of a 55% cut in emissions, agreed after all-night negotiations this week.

China and India will also be taking part, though the extent of their new commitments is not clear.


-Tags:#UN chief

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