Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

The United Nations Is Trying to Pressure the World into Faster Action on Climate Change

The United Nations Is Trying to Pressure the World into Faster Action on Climate Change

In the run up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit this Monday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly warned countries that they need more than empty promises to fight climate change. “Don’t come to the summit with beautiful speeches,” Guterres said at a press conference last month. “Come with concrete plans ... and strategies for carbon neutrality by 2050.”
Guterres has convened the gathering of world leaders ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, which begins Tuesday, to secure more ambitious commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions than those made in 2015 during the signing of the Paris climate agreement. Already, several countries have said they will increase those commitments, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, according to the 2020 NDC Tracker, just released by the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington, DC.
Paris signatories knew that their NDCs would not be sufficient to meet the agreement’s goal: limiting temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5˚C. The expectation was that they would ramp up their commitments over time, with the next round of NDCs expected in 2020. Next year is also when countries are expected to release their frameworks for reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.
Since the Paris agreement, a few countries, including Costa Rica, have begun to transition off of fossil fuels in earnest, and renewable energy has become dramatically cheaper. Yet global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, the climate is growing increasingly unstable, and three major countries — the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil — are balking at international cooperation on climate change. The US, the world’s second-largest carbon emitter, is aiming to withdraw from the Paris agreement and saw its emissions rise last year after years of decline.
Guterres has told reporters that the summit is an opportunity to recognize the countries that are ahead of the curve and pressure other ones lagging behind. And it’s coming just as a global social movement for climate action is erupting.
On Friday, massive international, youth-led climate strikes mobilized an estimated 4 million people to demand tougher action from governments to combat warming. “What I want is the whole of society putting pressure on governments to make governments understand we need to run faster, because we are losing the race,” Guterres told Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets, on Wednesday. (Vox)