Time for fancy speeches on global warming is over, UN chief declares

Monday, September 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
The aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas. Photo/COURTESY

More than 75 countries are expected to promise tougher action against global warming on Tuesday after millions of people took to the streets on Friday in the world’s biggest climate strike.

World leaders including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet at a United Nations climate change summit in New York to discuss further cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and ways to suck those that are already in the atmosphere back out of the sky, for example by planting billions of trees.

The stakes are high, as master of ceremonies UN Secretary General António Guterres has made crystal clear.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Guterres said: “I went to the Bahamas a few days ago.

The level of devastation was unlike anything I have ever seen. Hurricane Dorian was indeed Hurricane Hell. And, unfortunately, extreme weather events will only produce more hellscapes for more people.

Losing race

Guterres has been equally clear that he is after actions rather than words.

“I told leaders not to come with fancy speeches, but with concrete commitments,” he said. “Let’s face it. We have no time to lose. We are losing the race against climate change.”

World leaders promising enhanced action will be given a three-minute speaking slot at the summit, where Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg will make a longer speech.

Dozens of company heads are also expected to attend and will pledge their own actions on climate change.

The summit comes amid fears over a deepening climate crisis, with melting glaciers in Greenland, burning forests in the Amazon and tropical storms smashing the Caribbean.

Europe has been hit by two extreme heatwaves over the summer while the UK recorded a new all-time high temperature of 38.7°C in July. None of these extreme weather events can be directly linked to climate change but scientists say it makes them far more likely and much more intense.

On Friday, the world’s largest climate strike took place as millions of pupils, students and adults walked out of their schools, colleges and workplaces. —Agencies

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