With the end of the extreme year of hurricanes, fires and heat waves, the head of the United Nations called on world leaders to make 2021 the year when humanity ends its “war against nature” and commits itself to a carbon-free future that warms the planet. . pollution.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made another urgent call to tackle climate change, with new reports highlighting the record time of 2020 and the growing extraction of fossil fuels that is triggering global warming. It was full of optimism but gave serious warnings as the UN prepares for a virtual climate summit on December 12 in France, on the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
“The state of the planet is broken,” Guterres said in his speech at Columbia University. “Humanity is waging a war against nature. This is suicidal. “
“Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are becoming the new normal conditions,” he said.
In a report according to the World Meteorological Organization, this year will be about 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the last half of the 1800s, which scientists use as a basis for warming from coal, oil combustion heat traps and natural gas. Most of the trapped heat goes to the world’s seas, and ocean temperatures are at record levels today. This also means that 2020 will be one of the three hottest years.
“At least one in five has a chance to temporarily exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2024,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. The Paris Climate Agreement set the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
A new analysis Climate Action Tracker scientists, who monitor carbon pollution and promise to reduce it, claim that the state’s commitment to reducing emissions, if adhered to, would increase warming to about 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and possibly 2 , Limits to 1 degree Celsius.
Guterres saw in the promises of more than 100 countries his hope that by the middle of the century they would not release more heat-binding gas into the atmosphere than trees and technology could remove, as well as short-term pollution reductions. The elected presidents of China and the United States, Joe Biden, have pledged net zero carbon emissions.
“I firmly believe that 2021 could be a new kind of escape year – a year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality,” Guterres said.
But he said two UN reports on Wednesday “explain how close we are to the climate catastrophe.”
When countries spend trillions of dollars to recover from the economic slowdown triggered by a pandemic, Guterres says they need to do so in a way that emphasizes clean energy.
Nations should stop funding and supporting fossil fuels, he said. And countries must deliver on their Paris promise to spend $ 100 billion a year on developing cleaner energy for poorer countries.
Guterres said the world is in no way able to curb climate change “without US leadership,” and has encouraged students and other Americans to do “everything they can” to get their governments to cut emissions faster.
One of the new reports the countries found should reduce oil, coal and natural gas production by 6% a year by 2030 so that global temperatures do not rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius. Instead, a review of eight fossil fuel-producing countries showed plans to increase production by 2% a year. This means that twice as much carbon-based fuel would be placed on the market as is feasible to achieve the Paris target.
Governments of 20 governments with large and emerging economies have so far spent more money to support the fossil fuel sectors than to encourage the spread of renewable energy, the report said.
Co-author Ivetta Gerasimchuk of the International Institute for Sustainable Development says investing in oil, coal and gas no longer makes economic sense because renewable energy is becoming cheaper than fossil fuels. But he said: “We see that instead of governments letting these fossil fuel projects die, they are being raised from the dead.”
The WMO reports that global warming is exacerbated in all seven key climate indicators, but the problem is exacerbating human suffering in an already bad year.
“In 2020, more than 50 million people were doubly affected: climate-related disasters (floods, droughts and storms) and the COVID-19 epidemic,” the report said. “Central American countries are suffering from the triple effects of Hurricanes Eta and Iota, COVID-19, and existing humanitarian crises.”
The report highlighted among dozens of extremes:
– Record 30 Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.
– Death Valley in California has reached 129.9 degrees (54.4 degrees Celsius), the hottest 80 years in the world.
– Record fires occurred in California and Colorado in the western United States after a great season of fires and record temperatures in Australia.
–The Arctic hit record fires and a prolonged heat wave that culminated in a peak of 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) in Siberia in June.
– Record low Arctic sea ice was reported in April and August, and the annual minimum, September, was the second lowest on record.
– More than 2,000 people have died in record summer rains and floods in Pakistan and surrounding nations.
While these events cannot be blamed solely on climate change, “these events are feared by scientists that they will escalate due to climate change,” said Natalie Mahowald, a climate correspondent at Cornell University who was not part of the report.
“Human activity is the root of our sinking into chaos,” Guterres said. “But that means human action can solve it.”
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