Governments, business leaders and development banks have two years to take action to avert far worse climate change, the UN’s climate chief said yesterday, in a speech that warned global warming is slipping down politicians’ agendas.
Scientists say that halving climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 is crucial to stop a rise in temperatures of more than 1.5° Celsius that would unleash more extreme weather and heat.
Yet last year, the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased to a record high. Current commitments to fight climate change would barely cut global emissions at all by 2030.
Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said that the next two years are “essential in saving our planet”.
The Group of 20 developed and developing economies including the United States, China and India faced many geopolitical challenges but this “cannot be an excuse for timidity amidst this worsening crisis”, Stiell said.
“I’ll be candid: blame-shifting is not – is not – a strategy. Sidelining climate isn’t a solution to a crisis that will decimate every G20 economy and has already started to hurt,” he said. “The financial firepower the G20 marshalled during the global financial crisis should be marshalled again and pointed squarely at curbing runaway emissions and building resilience right now.”
“We still have a chance to make greenhouse gas emissions tumble, with a new generation of national climate plans. But we need these stronger plans, now,” he said.
Speaking at an event at the Chatham House think-tank in London, Stiell said that the Group of 20 (G20) leading economic powers – together responsible for 80% of global emissions – urgently needed to step up.
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