UN Climate Action Summit Begins
Sixty-six countries vow carbon neutrality by 2050
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 23: Sixty-six countries have signaled their intent to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the United Nations said Monday, seen as a vital goal in preventing catastrophic longer term climate change.
"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," the office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. "The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win," he said.
Some 60 world leaders have convened for the UN Climate Action Summit in New York aimed at reinvigorating the faltering Paris agreement, at a time when mankind is releasing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than at any time in history.
The UN estimates that the world needs to increase its current efforts five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science -- a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid escalating climate damage.
Countries announced commitments to carbon reduction targets under the Paris Agreement of 2015, and are now expected to update their "nationally determined contributions" by 2020.
Leaders from government, business, and civil society today announced potentially far-reaching steps to confront climate change at the United Nations Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit in New York.
As carbon pollution, temperatures, and climate destruction continue to rise, and public backlash mounts, the Summit has offered a turning point from inertia into momentum, action, and global impact - if everyone gets on board.
The UN estimates that the world would need to increase its efforts between three- and five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science - a 1.5°Crise at most - and avoid escalating climate damage already taking place around the world.
However, the Paris Agreement provides an open-door framework for countries to continuously ratchet up their positive actions, and today's Summit demonstrates how governments, businesses, and civilians around the world are rising to the challenge.
"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," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. "Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century." "The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win."
"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."
He said, "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."
"And young people are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action."
The climate statement is a pull-together of the latest science on the causes and growing impacts of unprecedented levels of warming seen in recent years. Recognising that global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees C since 1850, the paper notes they have gone up by 0.2C between 2011 and 2015.
This is as a result of burgeoning emissions of carbon, with the amount of the gas going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 growing by 20% compared with the previous five years.
Perhaps most worrying of all is the data on sea-level rise. The average rate of rise since 1993 until now is 3.2mm per year. However, from May 2014 to 2019 the rise has increased to 5mm per year. The 10-year period from 2007-2016 saw an average of about 4mm per year.
"Sea-level rise has accelerated and we are concerned that an abrupt decline in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, which will exacerbate future rise," said WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas.
"As we have seen this year with tragic effect in the Bahamas and Mozambique, sea-level rise and intense tropical storms led to humanitarian and economic catastrophes."
The report also highlights the threats to the oceans, with more than 90% of the excess heat caused by climate change ending up in the waters. The WMO analysis says 2018 had the highest ocean heat content values on record. -AFP