MADRID, SPAIN: Concerned about that the world’s efforts to stop climate change have been “utterly inadequate” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paid a “surprise” visit to Madrid on Sunday, ahead of the official start of the 25th round of the UN-sponsored climate change talks.
The UN chief was in the city to draw attention to the need to efforts to tackle climate change to close the growing gap between the actions that need to be taken and the efforts on the ground. In doing so, Guterres hoped to set the tone for the negotiations and persuade countries to step up their climate ambition ahead of the operationalisation of the Paris Agreement.
Addressing the media, Guterres reminded that the impact of rising temperatures was already being felt around the world, and is having dramatic consequences for humans beings and biodiversity. He said that the world has the scientific and technical knowledge and means to slowdown global warming but what it was lacking was political will.
He said, “Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon. Taxing pollution instead of people.”
"The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,” Guterres stressed, “it is in sight and hurtling toward us."
Even as he cited growing scientific evidence of the impact of human induced greenhouse gas emissions on the planet from record high summer temperatures to melting Arctic and Antarctic ice caps, Guterres insisted that his was a “message of hope and not despair”.
“Our war against nature must stop and we know that that is possible.”
The world, UN chief said, needs to stop "digging and drilling" and take advantage of renewable energy and nature-based solutions.
The UN chief took the opportunity to highlight the inadequate pace of action by the world’s major economies and biggest emitters. “We also see clearly that the world's largest emitters are not pulling their weight. And without them, our goal is unreachable,” he said.
Recognising the critical role of finance, particularly the provision of predictable and adequate funding to developing countries, Guterres announced that the outgoing Bank of England governor Mark Carney will become his new special envoy on “climate action and climate finance” from next year.
(The reporter travelled to Madrid for COP25 at the invitation of the Global Editors Network, a non-profit non-governmental association committed to sustainable journalism)