Antnio Guterres cites fantastic leadership of young activists and is counting on public pressure to compel governments to honor the 2015 Paris Agreement
The UN secretary general says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change emergency.
Governments always follow public opinion, everywhere in the world, sooner or later, Antnio Guterres, said on Tuesday in an interview with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets, led by Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation, in partnership with the Guardian. Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, added: And so we need to keep telling the truth to people and be confident that the political system, especially democratic political systems, will in the end deliver.
Guterres refused to comment on Donald Trump and the Trump administrations hostility to climate action, but a CBS News poll released on 15 September found that 69% of Americans want the next president to take action, while 53% say such action is needed right now. Guterres said that it would be much better if the US was strongly committed to climate action, just as it would be better if Asian countries [notably, China and Japan] stopped exporting coal plants. Until then, he said, what I want is to have the whole society putting pressure on governments to understand they need to run faster. Because we are losing the race.
With five days remaining before the UN climate action summit on 23 September, the secretary general cited the fantastic leadership of young activists as a leading example of how civil society can pressure governments to honor the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to well below 2C and preferably to 1.5C. Recent election results across Europe where green parties gained significant public backing also left Guterres optimistic that at next Mondays summit the European Union will announce that it promises to be carbon neutral by 2050, as the Paris Agreement mandates.
Nature is angry, said Guterres, who recently returned from a visit to the Bahamas, where Hurricane Dorian unleashed what he called total destruction. He further cited ferocious drought in Africa, melting glaciers, bleaching coral reefs, the hottest month in recorded history last July, and potential future sea level rise of 10 to 20 meters (33 to 66ft) as evidence that, You cannot play games with Nature. Nature strikes back.
Dont bring a speech bring a plan, Guterres famously told heads of state and government in the months leading up to this summit, and it appears that only leaders who followed his instructions will be allowed to speak at the plenary session. To gain a slot, a country had to commit to doing one of three things, said UN officials: be carbon neutral by 2050; significantly increase how much it will cut emissions (or, in UN jargon, significantly strengthen its Nationally Determined Contribution); or make a meaningful pledge to the Green Climate Fund, a pool of money provided by wealthy countries to help developing countries leave fossil fuels behind and increase their resilience against climate disruption. UN officials expect that 60 to 70 countries will have made sufficiently solid commitments by next Monday that their leaders will be invited to outline their countrys plans from the dais, with each leader granted a mere three minutes to speak.