‘Climate crisis has opened the gates to hell’: UN warns | World News - Hindustan Times
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‘Climate crisis has opened the gates to hell’: UN warns

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Sep 21, 2023 11:32 AM IST

Guterres called on “first movers & doers” to present updated pre-2030 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as agreed to in Glasgow climate summit in 2021.

The world is heading towards 2.8 degree Celsius (°C) warming if global leaders do not act now, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday at the UN Climate Ambition Summit, where major emitters such as the United States, China, and India were notably absent.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres(AFP)
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres(AFP)

“Our focus here is on climate solutions – and our task is urgent. Humanity has opened the gates to hell. Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects. Distraught farmers watching crops carried away by floods; sweltering temperatures spawning disease; and thousands fleeing in fear as historic fires rage. Climate action is dwarfed by the scale of the challenge. If nothing changes we are heading towards a 2.8 degree (Celsius) temperature rise – towards a dangerous and unstable world,” Guterres said on Wednesday, urging world leaders to take action.

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READ: ‘Focus only on climate solutions’, says Guterres at UN Summit; India, US skip

But leading polluters did not attend the summit at the annual UN General Assembly. Independent experts said this may be because the bar for those who would get slots to speak at the gathering was set too high. HT had reported on September 16 that the UN secretary-general had written to member states, calling for expressions of interest in presenting on how the nations will update their efforts to deal with the climate crisis.

In his letter, Guterres called on “first movers and doers” to present updated pre-2030 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as agreed to in the Glasgow climate summit in 2021. This included updated net-zero targets; energy transition plans with commitments to no new coal, oil and gas; fossil fuel phase-out plans; more ambitious renewable energy targets; and pledges to the green climate fund. A chair’s summary on the updated goals was set to be released when the meeting ended later on Wednesday.

READ: Scientifically Speaking | The heartache of climate change

After receiving more than 100 applications to take part, the UN finally released a list on Tuesday night of 41 speakers that did not include China, the US, the United Kingdom, Japan or India, reports said.

“We can still limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C. We can still build a world of clear air, green jobs, and affordable clean power for all. The path forward is clear,” Guterres said in his opening speech, referring to the Paris climate agreement of 2015 which was aimed at limiting global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C. “But if we are to meet the 1.5 degree limit and protect ourselves from climate extremes, climate champions, particularly in the developing world, need solidarity... And they need global leaders to take action.”

He warned that the world is still decades behind in its move from fossil fuels to renewables. “My Acceleration Agenda calls on governments to hit fast forward: So that developed countries reach net zero as close as possible to 2040, and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050,” Guterres said.

“The UN secretary-general set a high bar for entry to this summit, and clearly some countries and entities have met it, with welcome investments and policies that show genuine climate ambition," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global climate and energy lead and COP20 president. “However, the absence of many of the most polluting countries from this summit shows they are not yet demonstrating the ambition needed to avert climate catastrophe.”

India formally updated its NDC last year, confirming to the United Nations apex body that it will reduce the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 45% from 2005 levels by the year 2030, and to have installed capacity for non-fossil fuel-based power sources equivalent to the country’s 50% requirement by 2030.

India has also submitted its long-term climate action strategy at the UN Climate Conference (COP27) joining a select list of countries that have articulated how they will achieve their net zero emissions goal in the long-term.

The country’s Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy mainly articulates India’s vision and action plan for achieving its NDC goals and the target of net zero emissions by 2070 and key elements of India’s transition to a low-carbon development pathway.

Speakers at the summit included European Union, Germany, France, Canada, Brazil, Columbia, South Africa, Marshall Islands, and Kenya, among others, as well as Sultan Al Jaber, President of the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP28). Representatives from non-government institutions including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the company Allianz were also present at the summit. Several speakers raised concerns over the world’s continuing dependence on fossil fuels, including California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“It’s time for us to be a lot more clear - this climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis...it’s not complicated...and we need to call that out,” he told the summit.

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