The grim reality is that Greta Thunberg’s passionate speech lambasting global leaders at the UN climate summit in New York on September 23 is unlikely to make much of a difference in the way the largest global polluters do business. The top emitters aren’t bothered: the US didn’t show up; China yawned; Brazil was shown the door, and India agreed that more should be done but made no promises. Disgraced UK prime minister Boris Johnson promised more money. How many times have we heard that one before? Seventy developing countries committed to stronger action—but there is little they can do to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases on a global scale. The Pacific small island states are close to panic: they know that their days are numbered.
A UN report, appropriately called The heat is on, released just before the climate summit, projected that with the current set of emission reduction plans (the Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs negotiated under the 2015 Paris Agreement), emissions of carbon will in fact rise by over 10 percent between now and 2030. Confirming the upward trend, the International Energy Agency reported that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions grew 1.7 % from 2017 to 2018, the highest rate of growth since 2013. This is insane. It’s no longer business-as-usual. It’s more business than ever before.
Greta Thunberg didn’t mince words : In a stinging speech, the Swedish teenager told governments that “You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal.”
At the end of the Summit, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tried to put a brave face on things saying, “I was deeply moved by many examples of inspiring leadership by countries that have done the least to contribute to the climate crisis.”
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