UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has said it will “not only be immoral, but suicidal”, should the world body fail to agree on climate change action.
Mr Guterres said this on Wednesday at the ongoing 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Poland.
He challenged the more than 100 government leaders gathered in Katowice to find a consensus and “finish the job”, noting the roadblocks continuing at the (COP24) climate change conference over how to implement the historic 2015 Paris Agreement.
“In my opening statement to this conference one week ago. I warned that climate change is running faster than we are and that Katowice must – in no uncertain terms – be a success, as a necessary platform to reverse this trend,” Mr Guterres said.
Since December 2, the conference has brought together thousands of climate action decision-makers, advocates and activists, with one key objective – to adopt global guidelines for the 197 parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The 197 parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement is committed to limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Centigrade – and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Centigrade – above pre-industrial levels.
With only three days left at the conference for the negotiations, the UN chief regretted that “despite progress in the negotiating texts, much remains to be done”.
On Wednesday, given the complex state of discussions, the Polish Presidency of COP24 proposed a text to act as a “new basis for negotiations”.
“Key political issues remain unresolved. This is not surprising – we recognise the complexity of this work. But we are running out of time,” Guterres warned, referring to the alarming special report on global warming issued in October by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“Over the last 10 days, many of you have worked long, hard hours and I want to acknowledge your efforts. But we need to accelerate those efforts to reach consensus if we want to follow-up on the commitments made in Paris.”
He called on negotiators to boost their ambition, with regards to “predictable and accessible financial flows for the economic transition towards a low-emission and climate-resilient world.”
Mr Guterres reminded the audience that developed countries had a financial obligation to support the efforts of developing countries, as established by the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), under which the Paris Agreement falls, and which was signed in 1992.
“It’s very difficult to explain to those suffering from the effects of climate change that we have not managed to find predictable support for the actions that must be taken,” he remarked.
He hailed various financial announcements made since the beginning of COP24, including by the World Bank, multilateral development banks, and the private sector but urged developed nations to “scale up their contributions to jointly mobilise $100 billion annually by 2020,” as laid out in 2015 in Paris.
“Countries have different realities, different capacities and different circumstances,” he noted, explaining that “we must find a formula that balances the responsibilities of all countries” and that is “fair and effective for all.”
The UN chief said there was the know-how, as well as “incredible momentum from all segments of society” adding that “what we need, is the political will to move forward.”
“I understand that none of this is easy. I understand some of you will need to make some tough political decisions,” he said, adding that “this is the time for consensus.”
“This is the time for political compromises to be reached. This means sacrifices, but it will benefit us all collectively”, he challenged the conference to overcome national preferences and work together to “finish the job” with raised ambition “on all fronts”.
Mr Guterres said, “To waste this opportunity in Katowice would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”