WE HEARD the chief of the United Nations when he spoke recently in New York where he described the blistering heat across the northern hemisphere as a “cruel summer.”
Underlying that climate change, a terrifying episode, is here, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “For the entire planet, it is a disaster,” and noted that short of a mini-Ice Age, July 2023 shattered records across the board.
Guterres called for radical action on climate change, stressing the record-shattering July temperatures showed Earth has passed from a warming phase into an “era of global warming.”
He added: “Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning. The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”
Ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit he is set to host on September 20, Guterres called on developed countries to commit to achieving carbon neutrality as close to 2040 as possible, and for emerging economies as close as possible to 2050.
The Summit would be participated in by governments, business, finance, local authorities and civil society including “first movers and doers” or those who have geared up to address the phenomenon.
We see the Summit represents a critical political milestone for demonstrating that there is collective global will to accelerate the pace and scale of a just transition to a more equitable renewable-energy based, climate-resilient global economy.
Doubtless, climate change is the crucial issue of our time and we are at a defining moment.
From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.
The “destruction” unleashed by humanity “must not inspire despair, but action,” Guterres said, warning that to prevent the worst outcomes humanity “must turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition.”
The latest scientific assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has once more highlighted the urgency to act.
The damage from the climate crisis is extensive, and global greenhouse gas emissions remain at record levels.
The world needs immediate and deep reductions in emissions now, and over the course of the next three decades, to limit global warming to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels and prevent the worst impacts.
Meanwhile, populations that are the least responsible for the climate crisis are suffering from its impacts and need immediate help to adapt and recover from loss and damage.
As authorities have pointed out, this is an issue of equity and climate justice which requires immediate attention from governments and international financial institutions.